Topical Collection "Separation and Analysis of Drugs and Poisons in Forensic Science"

A topical collection in Separations (ISSN 2297-8739). This collection belongs to the section "Forensics/Toxins".

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Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy
Interests: forensic science; forensic toxicology; driving under the influence; post-mortem toxicology

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forensic toxicology is an interdisciplinary field extracted from biology, analytical chemistry, medicine, and pharmacology with the aim to confirm or exclude the presence of xenobiotics (drugs, poisons, and other potentially toxic compounds) in biological and non-biological material as well as to determine their role for legal purposes. In forensic sciences, the interpretation of analytical results is essential to verify the cases in which the causes/concauses of toxic or psychoactive substance usage have contributed to the deaths of individuals or to discriminate between administrative or penal sanctions regarding living subjects. These analyses and interpretations must be conducted in a manner that will make them defensible in court.

Analytical methods used in forensic toxicology must be characterized by the highest quality to ensure the certainty and reliability of the analytical results of the analyses. Currently, for confirmatory analyses, advanced instrumental techniques such as the chromatographic separation of gas or liquid phase coupled with mass spectrometry single or tandem (GC/MS; LC-MS/MS; GC/HS) ensure sensitivity and selectivity for the detection and quantification of nanomolar concentrations of analytes in a variety of research materials. Any analytical procedures or modifications in these extraction techniques to further improve the sensitivity and recovery of analytes from biological matrices must be examined in terms of validation standards and referenced methods. Calibration curves must take into account the biological matrix which includes the examined substance and internal standard use.

I am pleased to invite contributors to this collection of Separations, which will focus on the most recent advancements in the field of the development and application of analytical methods for the identification and quantification of psychoactive substances in non-biological and biological matrixes, for medico-legal purposes. Topics of interest include the identification and analysis of psychoactive substances in seized materials; postmortem forensic toxicology; driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol; workplace drug tests; drug-facilitated sexual assault, drug-facilitated crime; synthetic and natural poisons; new psychoactive substances. Original research articles and reviews are particularly welcomed.

Dr. Anna Carfora
Collection Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • forensic toxicology
  • postmortem toxicology
  • drug-impaired driving
  • workplace drug testing
  • drug-facilitated crime or sexual assault (DFC or DFSA)
  • drugs of abuse/alcohol detection
  • analytical method validation
  • interpretation of analysis results
  • gas/liquid chromatography
  • tandem mass spectrometry
  • new psychoactive substances
  • synthetic and natural poisons

Published Papers (1 paper)


Case Report
Acute Intoxication by Bisoprolol and Drowning: Toxicological Analysis in Complex Suicides
Separations 2023, 10(2), 68; - 18 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1905
In complex suicides, more than one suicide method is applied at the same time or one after the other. The most common complex suicide includes the ingestion of drugs combined with drowning. A case of acute intoxication by Bisoprolol and drowning is reported. [...] Read more.
In complex suicides, more than one suicide method is applied at the same time or one after the other. The most common complex suicide includes the ingestion of drugs combined with drowning. A case of acute intoxication by Bisoprolol and drowning is reported. The dead body of a 40-year-old woman was discovered on a river side, soon after her husband found a suicide note at home. In the woman’s vehicle four empty boxes of Bisoprolol, a widely used beta blocker, were also found. Main autopsy findings were consistent with drowning and represented by plume of froth at the mouth and nostrils with frothy fluid also in the airways, water into the stomach, and a remarkable pulmonary edema as a result of fluid aspiration. Toxicological analyses were performed on peripheral blood, urine and gastric content samples using liquid and gas chromatography, coupled with mass spectrometry. Toxicological results were negative for ethanol and other common drugs of abuse. High levels of bisoprolol were found in blood (7.54 mg/L), far exceeding the therapeutic range, in the urine (1.14 mg/L), and gastric content (13.12 mg/L). Bisoprolol intoxication was assessed as a relevant contributing condition to the immediate cause of death represented by drowning. Although Bisoprolol would certainly have a heart-depressing effect, it is not possible to determine if the victim fell unconscious or if she simply collapsed into the water with a secondary drowning. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Alcohol and drug findings in road traffic deaths: A retrospective analysis (2013-2021) in the north of the Italian region Campania
Authors: Anna Carfora, Raffaella Petrella, Stefano Festinese, Adelaide Scamardella, Carlo Pietro Campobasso
Affiliation: University of Campania L. Vanvitelli
Abstract: Alcohol and illicit drugs impair driving abilities, diminishing the level of attention, and cause traffic accidents. In Italy, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is regulated by Articles 186 and 187 of the National Street Code, which defines penalties and fines for the convicted. The aim of this study was the collection of all deaths related to road accidents available data in the Forensic Toxicology Unit at the University of Campania, related to 208 subjects who died following road accidents in the Italian areas of Naples, and Caserta from 2013 to 2021 years , in order to assess any consumption of alcohol, illicit drugs, and medicinal drugs among drivers. The population was divided into subgroups according to age, gender, crash time, and drug positivity.

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