New Technology Offered for Drug Detection

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Centice was a company with a problem. They had some great technology, but only a niche market to sell it in. The equipment provided a quick double check for pharmacies and others who wanted to identify chemicals. This is important in hospitals or pharmacies where ingredients might be mislabeled. Unfortunately, the market didn’t “bite.”

This month, they took a new track, one that promises to open up a large, well financed customer base – who need the product desperately.

The scenario plays out like this: A police officer does a traffic stop or arrest and finds a “white powdery substance.” What is it? Suppose the field test kit for cocaine and the one for methamphetamine show negative, what then?

Many prescription drugs are ground up, destroying any identification, before use by addicts. Currently, suspect powders have to be sent to a crime lab for identification – this can take days to weeks. With the rise of prescription drug abuse, the issue of identifying suspicious substances in real time, at the scene, is becoming more and more important. It can be the difference between an arrest and not. And it works to avoid false arrests as well – the unit can clear someone as easily as implicate them.

Enter Centice. Their specialty is portable, low-cost, spectrographic analysis. And they’ve been doing it for prescription drugs already.

At upwards of $13,000, the units aren’t cheap. However, if a police officer on the scene can request a test, the small suitcase device only has to be transported there. This is similar to how one drug dog is “shared” across a small police department. Additionally, because the equipment is a general purpose scientific instrument, it can be loaded with new drug entities for identification. That means when the next designer drug hits the street, the unit, and police, can keep up. And it comes pre-loaded with a data base of more than 3,500 prescription drugs.

Police agencies are naturally interested, and Centice has been talking to several. Law enforcement in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina have already expressed interest.

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