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Techniques & Tools Pharma & Biopharma, Liquid Chromatography

Legal Highs & Lows

While serving as a hospital pharmacist, I frequently encountered patients with marijuana hidden in their belongings; often, they declared them as personal “herbal medicines”. At the same time, the use of “designer drugs” was increasing and it was not uncommon to encounter numerous admissions with unknown sources of toxicities. The lack of available clinical guidelines for treating designer drug-related toxicity made it challenging and led to the provision of supportive adjunct treatment as well as treating the symptoms themselves. Furthermore, symptom control was based on local formularies used by different hospitals rather than national guidelines (1). These challenges inspired me to undertake a PhD research project to study and investigate the new flood of “designer drugs”. This has led me into contributing to two EU-funded projects that focus on the problem of NPS: EU-MADNESS (www.eumadness.eu) and Enhancing Police Skills regarding NPS (www.npsproject.eu).

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About the Author

Amira Guirguis

Before training as a pharmacist, Amira Guirguis started out as an accountant, then she became an interpreter and translator. She is currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Hertfordshire focusing on developing spectral and computational models for the identification of novel psychoactive substances solid mixtures. Her previous research focussed on transdermal permeation of topical pharmaceuticals and the elemental profiling of herbal medicines. Amira is also an active member of the committee of the London North West Local Pharmacy Forums (LNWLPF) a mentor at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and a pre-registration pharmacist trainer at Propharmace. She is an associate of the EU MADNESS project and a member of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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