Clinical and Forensic Toxicology News

March 2016 CFTN

An AACC/CAP Educational Newsletter for Toxicology Laboratories

CFTN is registered with the U.S. Library of Congress, ISSN 2374-9679.

Read the March 2016 issue of CFTN

Welcome to CFTN for March 2016. Clinical & Forensic Toxicology News for March, 2016 is now available online. Articles in this issue are centered on adulteration and additives to drugs as well as herbal medicine. Send us feedback and let us know what you think.

Send us feedback and let us know what you think.

Suggested citation for CFTN

Author’s last name(s), first and middle initials. (Date of Publication). Title of article. Clinical and Forensic Toxicology News (Quarterly, AACC/CAP), pages. Available from [specific web URL of posting].


Ritchie J (March 2016). Kratom: Herb Gains Popularity as a Gentler Opiate Substitute. Clinical and Forensic Toxicology News (Quarterly, AACC/CAP), 8-10. Available from

Heroin Adulteration
Additives Are Associated with An Increase in Overdose Deaths
By Matthew Feldhammer, PhD, and James C. Ritchie, PhD

The number of deaths from heroin overdoses in the United States has increased markedly in recent years. Between 1999 and 2014, heroin-related deaths increased 439%, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. Many people who became addicted to prescription opioids over the past two decades have turned to heroin in response to crackdowns by law enforcement on their opioids. In addition, there has been a substantial increase in drug potency and the use of toxic additives such as fentanyl.

Herbal Medicine Adulteration
Labs Play Key Role in Identifying Pharmaceuticals Added to Herbs
By Angela M. Ferguson, PhD, and Uttam Garg, PhD

Many herbal medicines derived from plants and plant extracts have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Because of their natural origin, many users perceive them to be safe and harmless compared with conventional drugs. Because the FDA does not oversee their manufacture to the extent that it does conventional drugs, the herbal remedies found in the U.S. and many other countries have contamination and adulteration problems.

Herb Gains Popularity as a Gentler Opiate Substitute
By James Ritchie, PhD

A Southeast Asian herb is gaining popularity among addicted heroin and prescription opiate users, pain sufferers, and hipsters looking for a nice buzz, and it's legal in most places—at least for now. Kratom (also known as ketum and kratumum) is a botanical extract derived from the leaves of a tropical evergreen tree, Mitragyna speciosa.

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