Fighting back against synthetic opioids

9th July 2024

 At a glance

> Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and nitazenes are presenting challenges for UK police forces due to a lack of testing infrastructure.

> But the MX908 high-pressure mass spectrometer can detect such substances through interferents and cutting agents, even in trace amounts.

> Fast and portable, it can produce results in the field or forensics lab in less than 60 seconds.

The growing challenge for police forces

The emergence of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and nitazenes are presenting challenges for police forces and border controls across the UK due to a lack of testing infrastructure. Earlier this year, 15 synthetic opioids were categorised as Class A drugs by the government under the Misuse of Drugs Act, highlighting both the growing prevalence and seriousness of such substances.

Being x50 stronger than heroin and x100 stronger than morphine, synthetic opioids are extremely potent. Originally developed for pain relief, they are now being produced illegally in clandestine labs for recreational use and trafficking. In many instances, these counterfeit opioids contain potentially lethal doses. The National Crime Agency have attributed more than 100 deaths to nitazenes since last summer, but this is believed to be a significant underestimate because of flawed data collection. However, there are proven, reliable instruments readily available to mitigate this.

Rapid, on-the-spot analysis with the MX908

The MX908 by 908 Devices is a high-pressure mass spectrometer that can detect and identify synthetic opioids, even in trace amounts, in less than 60 seconds. Providing users with fast, actionable intelligence, it is a portable, handheld instrument that uses mass spectrometry to identify substances on surfaces or aerosolised in the air. It can accurately identify chemical compounds through interferents and cutting agents that typically produce false positives and is able to produce results from trace amounts of sample as small as 100 nanograms, significantly limiting user exposure.

The MX908’s target list has recently been updated to include four critical nitazenes, which have seen an increase in illicit use in Europe. These are:

> N-Pyrrolidino etonitazene (also known as Etonitazepyne)

> Butonitazene

> Desnitroetonitazene

> Metonitazene

Find out more

You can learn more about the MX908 and its detection capabilities by clicking the button below to speak to a product specialist directly.