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NMS Labs Recognizes an Increase in Heroin and Fentanyl use

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In recent years there has been a sharp rise in heroin use and heroin overdoses. According to recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a rise in heroin abuse in the United States has been associated with an increase in fatal overdoses. Furthermore, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued an alert about an increase in deaths related to the use of heroin laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that is reported to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, an active ingredient in heroin. Law enforcement from across the country have started to notice that some of the heroin they’ve seized has been laced with the painkiller, fentanyl. Heroin laced with fentanyl is a deadly mixture, especially since most users are unaware that the heroin has been tainted.

This is a significant public health concern. Many users unknowingly inject this potent drug combination and overdose as a result. For those lucky enough to make it to the hospital, treatment may come too little too late. Since most hospitals don’t screen for fentanyl, medical staff may believe that they are only treating a heroin overdose which is usually easier to reverse. More attention needs to be brought to the issue of fentanyl-laced heroin before it becomes a greater epidemic. Additionally, there is evidence that in some cases the heroin being sold is pure fentanyl without any heroin.

In reviewing our results for drug trends, we have found fentanyl to be more prevalent than ever before.

“After seeing the trend of increasing fentanyl use, we knew the best thing to do was to include fentanyl detection to all of our postmortem panels,” Said Dr. Barry Logan, Chief of Forensic Toxicology at NMS Labs.

In just 90 days we saw 88 cases positive for both fentanyl and 6-acetylmorphine (a unique metabolite of heroin) from across the country. You can view a chart of our findings along with a full report here.

NMS Labs Selects RapidHIT® Platform to Deliver DNA Results in Record Time

WILLOW GROVE, Pa.-NMS Labs has added the IntegenX Inc., RapidHIT® System for rapid human DNA identification, to its list of premium DNA services. Rapid DNA technology is making waves in the criminal justice field by providing DNA results in as little as 90 minutes. With this technology, NMS Labs will be able to offer DNA testing with unprecedented speed to provide crucial leads to active ongoing criminal investigations. The RapidHIT® technology is a less expensive and a faster alternative to traditional DNA testing methods currently available to law enforcement and other investigators.

Receiving DNA results quickly has been a long sought-after need in criminal justice, enabling investigators to quickly identify their strongest leads, eliminate possible suspects, and avoid unproductive and expensive dead ends in their investigations. The new process allows this testing to be performed in hours instead of weeks, months, or even years with current technology. Public crime laboratories DNA units are often increasingly overwhelmed with high priority casework, and many laboratories have been forced to limit the number of items accepted for testing in order to control costs and prevent gridlock. Rapid DNA technology opens the door for DNA to be used cost effectively in testing more probative evidence, and applying the benefits of DNA testing to solving property and other nonviolent crimes.

“NMS Labs has been carefully watching the development of Rapid DNA technology, and the IntegenX platform is the first to meet our rigorous standards for forensic casework,” said Dr. Christian Westring, Director of Criminalistics and Quality Manager at NMS Labs. “This new technology makes DNA a tool for use in the early stages of the investigation rather than simply to take the case to court.”

With Rapid DNA from NMS Labs, clients will also have access to SmallPond™ database technology. This enables DNA profiles to be uploaded into a local database system that allows police departments to store DNA profiles and compare them with reference samples from suspects, and with other unsolved cases to link scene to suspect, and create new investigative leads. The more samples that agencies add to their database, the more powerful the system becomes. Agencies can also choose to share their results with local partner agencies to add even more power to the technique.