NIST is collaborating with the DEA and the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany – Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) to develop a web-based forensic drug chemistry analytical database to facilitate rapid, community-leveraged expert drug identification of newly emerging drugs. The NPS Data Hub can be found at the https://nps-datahub.com/.
A growing portion of forensic drug laboratory’s workload is the identification of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs), or emerging synthetic drugs (ESDs), presented as exhibit materials after seizure events. A pressing need exists for the rapid characterization of both the active ingredient(s) and the cutting agents within these “unknown” materials to facilitate the casework of the drug chemistry laboratory and ultimately promote timely law enforcement actions. To address this, NIST and its forensic laboratory partners (DEA, BKA) are developing an interactive datahub that will serve as a real-time data curation and data dissemination exchange for raw, multiplatform-compatible spectral data and associated metadata of NPSs. This dynamic workspace is intended to be used amongst primary national testing laboratories and international forensics laboratories as an analytical information web-based exchange site that will ultimately facilitate more rapid, community-leveraged expert drug identification decisions. The identification of newly appearing NPSs is conducted by forensic laboratories from analytical data evaluations, which are uploaded together with supporting analysis, to the web-based platform. The platform supports a peer-review process to confirm chemical identification based on the provided data. In addition, automated data evaluation tools are being both incorporated or developed to provide independent assessments of the consistency of the proposed chemical structure with the provided data. These automated evaluations are primarily being explored for NMR spectral data. The cooperation of national and international forensics institutes is being solicited to submit validated data and serve as peer reviewers for data quality assessments.