NASHVILLE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly 107,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 80,000 of those deaths (75 percent) were opioid-related and, of those, nearly 71,000 (88 percent) involved high-potency synthetic opioids.1 Synthetic opioids are driving the opioid overdose epidemic: the number of synthetic opioid-related deaths was nearly 23 times higher in 2021 than in 2013, in large part due to use of illicitly-manufactured fentanyl and other emerging synthetic opioid analogs.2
To assist in combatting this public health issue and maintain capabilities to identify emerging drug threats, Aegis Sciences Corporation, a health care testing lab based in Nashville, TN, is pleased to announce that it has adopted self-regulatory standards for novel psychoactive substance (NPS) testing. NPS, also known as designer drugs, are produced to simulate the effects of legal pharmaceuticals or existing controlled drugs and often go unidentified by routine presumptive or definitive drug testing methods.
Clinical considerations and testing requirements necessary to care for patients being treated for pain and/or substance use disorders have dramatically changed due to the complexity associated with an increase in polypharmacy use and the rapidly evolving supply of synthetic opioids and other illicitly manufactured drugs.3-5 As part of care management for both populations, nationally recognized clinical guidelines recommend drug testing for common classes of drugs and illicit substances, including synthetic opioids.6,7 To stay current with the rapidly changing landscape of new and emerging drugs, Aegis has committed to bi-annual NPS test menu updates to include the tier one and tier two recommendations established collaboratively by the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) and the Society of Forensic Toxicologist (SOFT) NPS Committee. The CFSRE and the SOFT NPS Committee’s recommendations for NPS were designed to assist laboratories seeking guidance on which NPS and other emerging drugs they should test. Due to the fact that the NPS landscape rapidly changes, the recommendations are produced quarterly based on current trends and intelligence to reduce bias caused by regionalized and/or out-of-date information. The recommendations are developed with timely, national data and information from external collaborations and outline different tiers for inclusion in testing.
“Because new NPS continue to emerge monthly, allowance for updates to scope recommendations on a regular basis is vitally important,” said Alex Krotulski, associate director at the nonprofit Center for Forensic Science Research & Education.
“Laboratories must be committed to staying current with methods for detection and confirmation of new compounds,” said Dr. Rebecca Heltsley, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Aegis Sciences Corporation. “In addition to Aegis’s continuous research, these self-regulatory standards serve as a way to demonstrate our commitment to providing the most relevant testing available to healthcare providers.”
Health care practitioners can learn more about the updated test offering through the Aegis website: https://www.aegislabs.com/our-services/nps-testing
- CDC. Drug Overdose Deaths. Accessed January 30, 2024.
- CDC. Opioid Overdose. Accessed January 30, 2024.
- Weimer et al. “ASAM Clinical Considerations: Buprenorphine Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder for Individuals Using High-potency Synthetic Opioids.” J Addict Med. 2023 Nov-Dec;17(6):632-639. Epub 2023 Jul 28. From abstract: “Treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) with buprenorphine has evolved considerably in the last decade as the scale of the OUD epidemic has increased along with the emergence of high-potency synthetic opioids (HPSOs) and stimulants in the drug supply.”
- Hoffman, J. “’A Monster’: Super Meth and Other Drugs Push Crisis Beyond Opioids.” The New York Times. November 13, 2023.
- Jannetto, P., Bratanow, N., Clark, W., Hamill-Ruth, R., Hammett-Stabler, C., Huestis, M., . . . Langman, L. (2017). Using Clinical Laboratory Tests to Monitor Drug Therapy in Pain Management Patients, Practice Guidelines; ASAM (2017), Appropriate Use of Drug Testing in Clinical Addiction Medicine.
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines: Using Clinical Laboratory Tests to Monitor Drug Therapy in Pain Management Patients. November 2017.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Appropriate Use of Drug Testing in Clinical Addiction Medicine. Accessed January 30, 2024.
About Aegis Sciences Corporation
Founded in 1990, Aegis Sciences Corporation is a laboratory sciences company based in Nashville, Tenn., that provides science-driven testing and consulting services for clients such as health care providers, pharmaceutical companies, professional and amateur sports organizations, leading college and university athletic programs, Fortune 500 corporations, and government agencies throughout the United States. For more information, please visit http://www.aegislabs.com/.