Special Swizzle-Stick Detects Date-Rape Drugs

By Ariel Nagi 08/12/11
The inexpensive invention, about to hit stores, reportedly exposes even miniscule traces of Ketamine and GHB.
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After a series of high profile date-rape cases in which victims unknowingly swallowed blackout drugs placed in their drinks,  women (and even men)  will soon have extra assurance that their glasses haven't been secretly spiked, thanks to a chemically-sensitive swizzle stick recently developed by Israeli scientists. On sale this month, the straw-shaped device is able to immediately detect two of the country's most commonly-used date rape drugs—GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) and ketamine—with 100% accuracy. The team that produced it hopes to add Rohypnol or “roofies” to the list of detectable drugs within the year. How does the thing work?  “It samples a very small volume of the drink and mixes it with a testing solution,” Fernando Patolsky, chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University and co-creator of the device, told ABC News. “That causes a chemical reaction that makes the solution cloudy or colored, depending on the drug.” It then turns on a small red light indicating that the drink was spiked. Priced about $5 or so,  the gadget cost less than a typical drink and can be used multiple times—though it needs to be replaced after it turns up a positive result. But while headlines may suggest otherwise, there's really no need for paranoia. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, GHB and ketamine are not particularly widespread, with less than two percent of teenagers using the drugs. Far more attacks by sexual predators are fueled by an overabundance of alcohol.

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