The Forensic Pharmacology
of Drugs of Abuse
Olaf H. Drummer
with Morris Odell
Arnold, London, 2001
Marc A. LeBeau
Federal Bureau of Investigation
preface of The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of Abuse, author
Olaf H. Drummer states that the book's scope is "to provide
a comprehensive account of the pharmacological, pharmacokinetic
and toxicological properties of the most common drugs of abuse that
require expert evidence in courts..." His writing is directed
toward experts in the areas of pharmacology and toxicology, legal
professionals, and medical practitioners. In striving to meet this
goal, Professor Drummer has taken a well-organized, novel approach
to presenting this material.
As I read this
book, I viewed it as having four divisions: Section 1, Sections
2-7, Section 8, and the Appendix. The first section serves as an
introduction to pharmacology and toxicology and provides an easily
understood, brief education on key topics. Professor Drummer introduces
the section with the statistical prevalence of drug abuse, focusing
on the problem in the United States and Australia. He addresses
the typical biological specimens that are encountered in clinical
and forensic toxicology laboratories, then explains the advantages
and disadvantages of each. Next, he provides an overview of analytical
techniques, validation, and quality assurance, followed by a brief,
well-written chapter on pharmacokinetics and drug duration of action.
Particularly valuable is his discussion of the pharmacokinetic differences
between healthy young adults and people who are not in that category
(e.g., children, elderly, obese, unhealthy). He also examines the
effect that blood loss or blood replacement therapy has on pharmacokinetics.
This is followed with the focus on drug tolerance and dependence.
He then provides guidance with interpretative issues in toxicology
(e.g., drug instability, metabolic changes, postmortem drug redistribution).
At the end of the section, he furnishes a generous list of references
from which the reader might wish to investigate further.
The second division
of the book, as I viewed it, consists of separate sections (2-7)
on the most commonly encountered abused drugs: stimulants, benzodiazepines
(and related central nervous system depressants), cannabis, opiates,
ethanol, and others (e.g., LSD, PCP, GHB). Each of these sections
provides key information about the drugs' classification, sources,
and structures; pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics; adverse reactions;
tolerance and dependence; and toxicology. Moreover, Professor Drummer
supplies educational case reports to allow the reader to apply the
presented information to real-life scenarios. A synopsis concludes
each subsection to provide the reader with a quick review of its
pertinent information. A list of references is also furnished at
the end of each section.
The book's third
division, Section 8, provides brief guidance for the clinical management
of drug-impaired persons. As in the other sections, Professor Drummer
supplies educational case reports to supplement the presented information.
The final division
of the book is an appendix consisting of extensive monographs of
more than 70 drugs of abuse. This section serves as a quick guide
to the most important chemical, toxicological, and pharmacokinetic
properties of each drug. The information includes the drug's class,
availability, trade names, chemical properties, pharmacology, common
doses, blood concentrations, postmortem artifacts, toxicity, abuse
potential, and selected review references.
has provided an invaluable reference to the fields of forensic pharmacology
and forensic toxicology. Not only will this book serve as a valuable
educational aid to students and trainees, but also as an essential
reference to experienced practitioners.
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