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New Test Developed to Detect Date-Rape Drug, GHB, in Drinks

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Researchers in Singapore announced they have developed a new test that can detect the date-rape drug GHB in drinks, according to HealthDay.

GHB is predominantly a central nervous system depressant. It can be produced in clear liquid, white powder, tablet, and capsule forms. Because GHB is odorless and tasteless, it can be slipped into someone’s drink without detection. The drug incapacitates people who ingest it, making them vulnerable to sexual assault, the article notes.

The researchers mixed a fluorescent compound with a sample of drink containing GHB and found the mixture changed color in less than 30 seconds. They reported their findings in the journal Chemical Communications. They said the color change was seen in clear and light-colored drinks, including water and vodka. Better lighting was needed to see the change in darker drinks, such as cola and whiskey.

“We wanted to develop something that would give results within several seconds, so you can check whether it is a safe drink or whether you should stop and think again,” researcher Chang Young-Tae said in a news release. The researchers said GHB takes effect within 15 to 30 minutes, and can last for three to six hours. They are working with product designers to come up with a portable detection kit within a year.

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