PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

More than 1/3 illicit drugs sold on the dark web contain unexpected substances

Testing of illicit drugs bought online found 35% were not what they said they were, highlighting the urgent need for more local drug testing facilities in Australia to prevent harm and overdose.

2024-03-04
(Press-News.org) Testing of illicit drugs bought online found 35% were not what they said they were, highlighting the urgent need for more local drug testing facilities in Australia to prevent harm and overdose.  

The RMIT-led study analysed 103 illicit drug samples sourced from the now-defunct dark web forum Test4Pay in collaboration with the Australian National University, UNSW Sydney and Canadian testing facility Get Your Drugs Tested. 

While 65% of samples contained only the advertised substance, the study found 14% of samples had a mixture of the advertised substance with other psychoactive or potentially harmful chemicals.  

Meanwhile, 21% of samples did not contain any of the advertised substances.  

MDMA, methamphetamines and heroin sourced were consistently found to only contain the advertised substance.  

Products sold as ketamine, 2C-B and alprazolam were most likely to be completely substituted with other substances or new synthetic drugs, which increased the risk of unwanted side effects, potential overdose or death. 

Of the 19 cocaine samples tested, only four were pure cocaine while 13 contained other substances and two samples did not contain any cocaine at all.  

Lead researcher and RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow, Dr Monica Barratt, said the results were concerning as drugs sold through cryptomarkets – online vendors on the dark web – were believed to be less likely to be mixed or substituted with other substances. 

“Cryptomarkets allow anonymous buyers to review purchases, which theoretically means vendors who sell inferior products are more likely to receive bad reviews, thereby rewarding vendors selling superior products,” said Barratt, from RMIT’s Social Equity Research Centre.  

“But despite this perception of accountability and quality, our findings show prohibited drugs purchased from cryptomarkets are still not safe from adulteration and substitution.” 

The dark web drug market 

According to the 2023 National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System survey, there was a slight decline of people buying drugs on the dark web, with more people turning to messaging and social media apps to source drugs. 

“These apps are a lot more convenient and easier to use than the dark web, but they lack many of the security features and review capacities of darknet markets,” she said. 

Barratt said Australia’s policies on tackling darknet markets focused on using law enforcement to ‘disrupt’ operations. 

“These takedowns are used to create a sense of general deterrence through announcing arrests and interruptions to markets,” she said.  

“However, we know through research on darknet market takedown operations that this ecosystem is quick to adapt to removal of markets. 

“These days, vendors have accounts across many markets, in case one goes down, their clients can find them on other markets. This mitigates against the disruption of a takedown.”  

Australia’s approach to drug regulation 

With Australians finding new ways to source illicit drugs, Barratt said it was more urgent than ever to launch more drug checking services. 

Currently, CanTEST is the only drug checking service available in Australia, with Queensland due to launch its own services this year and Victoria considering following suit. 

“Drug checking is a precautionary and pragmatic response to the health risks of unpredictable drug markets, often detecting hazardous substances before they flood the local market,” she said. 

While drug checking services have been operating around the world for over 50 years, Barratt said Australia remained resistant to expanding the harm reduction service. 

“Australia’s resistance to opening more drug checking facilities stems from an assumption that drug checking ‘green lights’ drug use,” Barratt said.  

“Drug checking services never tell consumers that their drugs are ‘safe’ as no drug use can be 100% safe. 

“What the service can do is explain the known risks of specific drugs, in a credible and non judgemental way, enabling people who use drugs to adjust their behaviour to reduce risk.” 

A 2022 systemic review of pill testing found people who found unexpected substances in their drugs were more likely to discard them and adjust their use. 

“If we can prevent overdoses from happening in the first place, then we can not only reduce harm for consumers and avoid the pain felt by bereaved family members, but also ease the pressures on our emergency health system,” Barratt said.  

“Adulteration and substitution of drugs purchased in Australia from cryptomarkets: An analysis of Test4Pay” was published in the Drug and Alcohol Review (DOI: 10.1111/dar.13825) 

Monica J. Barratt, Matthew Ball, Gabriel T. W. Wong and Angus Quinton are co-authors. 

END


ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

A better way to deliver fetal therapy for serious genetic disorders

2024-03-04
In a discovery that opens the door to a less invasive way of treating some serious disorders before birth, UC San Francisco scientists have found that delivering medicine through amniotic fluid is as effective as delivering it to the fetal brain via cerebrospinal fluid. The experiment was done in mice with a genetic disorder called Angelman syndrome.     Treating genetic diseases like Angelman in utero could prevent serious symptoms that begin while the fetus is still developing. It’s also easier to access neurons in the fetal brain because the blood-brain barrier that normally acts as a filter ...

Researchers develop amphibian-inspired camouflage skin

2024-03-04
Inspired by amphibians such as the wood frog, investigators designed and synthesized a new type of camouflage skin involving one-dimensional photonic crystal structures assembled in three-dimensional flexible gels. As described in Advanced Optical Materials, the camouflage skin can quickly recognize and match the background by modulating the optical signals of external stimuli. It demonstrated excellent mechanical performance, self-adaptive camouflage capabilities in response to complex surroundings, and long-term stability in real-world living environments. Bright structural color and mechanical flexibility were maintained even at temperatures as low as -80℃. The advance ...

Network of quantum sensors boosts precision

Network of quantum sensors boosts precision
2024-03-04
The quantum systems employed in quantum technologies, for example single atoms, are also very sensitive: any interaction with the environment can induce changes in the quantum system, leading to errors. However, this remarkable sensitivity of quantum systems to environmental factors actually represents a unique advantage. This sensitivity enables quantum sensors to surpass conventional sensors in precision, for example when measuring magnetic or gravitational fields. Noise cancellation using correlation spectroscopy The delicate quantum properties needed for sensing can be covered up ...

Robotic hip exoskeleton shows promise for helping stroke patients regain their stride

Robotic hip exoskeleton shows promise for helping stroke patients regain their stride
2024-03-04
Robotic Hip Exoskeleton Shows Promise for Helping Stroke Patients Regain Their Stride    A portable robotic device created by UMass Amherst researchers provides new avenue for making state-of-the-art gait rehabilitation methods more effective and accessible     AMHERST, Mass. – More than 80% of stroke survivors experience walking difficulty, significantly impacting their daily lives, independence, and overall quality of life. Now, new research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst pushes forward the bounds of stroke recovery ...

Conservation value of field research stations grossly misunderstood and underfunded according to 173 conservation scientists in new study

2024-03-04
SAN DIEGO – Funding of field conservation research stations worldwide has been drastically reduced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the alarm of more than 170 conservation researchers representing 157 field stations in 56 countries in a new paper published in Conservation Letters. The authors contend that field research stations have a high return on investment and are essential and highly effective tools for biodiversity conservation. Trillions of U.S. dollars were mobilized in economic recovery following the pandemic, yet the authors raise concerns ...

Study underscores social factors of low breast cancer screening in the US

Study underscores social factors of low breast cancer screening in the US
2024-03-04
There is a pressing need to explore and understand which social determinants of health (SDOH) and health inequities act as significant influential factors that contribute to low breast cancer screening behaviors in the United States. Health disparities have been consistently associated with delayed screening, which then contributes to higher mortality rates among both Hispanic and Black populations. Moreover, poverty, lack of education, neighborhood disadvantage, residential segregation, racial discrimination, lack of social support and social isolation ...

Nanomedicine research aims to transform treatment of aortic aneurysms

Nanomedicine research aims to transform treatment of aortic aneurysms
2024-03-04
Aortic aneurysms are bulges in the aorta, the largest blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or injury can all increase the risk of aneurysms, which tend to occur more often in Caucasian male smokers over the age of 65.  “The soft tissues that make up blood vessels act essentially like rubber bands, and it’s the elastic fibers within these tissues that allow them to stretch and snap back,” says Professor Anand Ramamurthi, chair of the Department of Bioengineering in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering ...

HIV medication can be used safely with gender-affirming hormone therapy

2024-03-04
New research definitively shows that HIV antiretrovirals can be taken together with gender-affirming hormone therapy without changing how well either drug works. The study findings can help healthcare providers address potential patient concerns that one drug will counteract the other. “This study is the first head-to-head pharmacokinetic analysis of two common HIV medications and long-term feminizing hormone therapy use,” says Walter Kraft, MD, director of the Division of Clinical ...

Gene-edited lymphocytes and the path toward ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy against cervical cancer

Gene-edited lymphocytes and the path toward ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy against cervical cancer
2024-03-04
Cervical cancer is among the most common malignancies affecting women worldwide. In 2020 alone, approximately 600,000 women were diagnosed with this disease, and over 314,000 died from it. In 99% of the cases, cervical cancer cells harbor human papilloma virus (HPV), and thus, HPV vaccines are an effective way to mitigate the risk of developing this disease. Unfortunately, such preventive measures are useless against established cancers, which are generally incurable once they become metastatic or relapsing.   Fortunately, scientists have made substantial progress in developing a promising ...

Humans have driven the Earth’s freshwater cycle out of its stable state

2024-03-04
A new analysis of freshwater resources across the globe shows that human activity has pushed variation in the planet’s freshwater cycle well outside of its pre-industrial range. The study shows that the updated planetary boundary for freshwater change was surpassed by the mid-twentieth century. In other words, for the past century, humans have been pushing the Earth’s freshwater system far beyond the stable conditions that prevailed before industrialization. This is the first time that global water cycle change has been assessed over such a long timescale with an appropriate reference baseline. The findings, published in Nature Water, show that human ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

New statewide research reveals the staggering economic cost of intimate partner violence in Louisiana

From ashes to adversity: Lessons from South Australia's business recovery amidst bushfires and pandemic

Multiple pollutants from crop and livestock production in the Yangtze River: status and challenges

Unraveling the unique role of DELLA proteins in grapevine flowering: A shift in developmental fate

Next-generation treatments hitch a ride into cancer cells

Unraveling the role of DlBGAL9 and AGL61/80 in Longan somatic embryogenesis and heat stress tolerance: A multi-omics approach

Decoding pecan pollination: A dive into the chloroplast genome of 'Xinxuan-4' and its impact on cultivar diversity and efficiency

KD-crowd: A knowledge distillation framework for learning from crowds

Can animals count?

Australian media need generative AI policies to help navigate misinformation and disinformation

Illuminating the path to hearing recovery

Unlocking the secrets of fruit quality: How anthocyanins and acidity shape consumer preferences and market value

Evidence for reversible oxygen ion movement during electrical pulsing: enabler of the emerging ferroelectricity in binary oxides

Revolutionizing Citrus cultivation: The superior tolerance and growth vigor of 'Shuzhen No.1' rootstock

Family and media pressure to lose weight in adolescence linked to how people value themselves almost two decades later

Despite the desire to reduce the risk of imitation, new research suggests startups should scale slowly and steadily

The Lancet: Many people with breast cancer ‘systematically left behind’ due to inaction on inequities and hidden suffering

From opioid overdose to treatment initiation: outcomes associated with peer support in emergency departments

NIH awards $3.4 million to Wayne State University to investigate biomarkers for better reproductive success

New study shows corporate misconduct at home hurts sales overseas

Take it from the rats: A junk food diet can cause long-term damage to adolescent brains

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute team unpacking genetic mysteries of childhood epilepsies

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers discover new clues to how tardigrades can survive intense radiation

UT Arlington prioritizes entrepreneurship efforts

Ochsner Health receives 2024 Top Workplaces Culture Excellence Awards

Are these newly found rare cells a missing link in color perception?

Annals supplement highlights important new evidence readers ‘may have missed’ in 2023

NIH awards $2.3 million grant to University of Oklahoma for gene therapy research

Hidden threat: Global underground infrastructure vulnerable to sea-level rise

Study reveals AI enhances physician-patient communication

[Press-News.org] More than 1/3 illicit drugs sold on the dark web contain unexpected substances
Testing of illicit drugs bought online found 35% were not what they said they were, highlighting the urgent need for more local drug testing facilities in Australia to prevent harm and overdose.