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".

Viewed by 3775


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 2600 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 3539
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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Figure 1

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 licit/illicit drugs in road traffic deaths in Campania region (Southern Italy)
Authors: Anna Carfora, Raffaella Petrella, Stefano Festinese, Adelaide Scamardella, Carlo Pietro Campobasso
Affiliation: University of Campania L. Vanvitelli
Abstract: Alcohol and drug abuse is a major contributory factor of all road deaths in Europe. Aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence of alcohol and licit/illicit drugs intake among victims of road accidents in Campania region (Italy). A retrospective analysis of road traffic deaths from 2013 to 2022 in Campania was performed. The toxicological results from fluid samples collected at autopsy were reviewed. 228 road deaths in total occurred, mostly during nights and weekends. 106 victims tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs, among which 39 (36.8%) only for alcohol, 27 (25.5%) for alcohol and drugs in association; 40 (37.7%) only for licit/illicit drugs, individually or in combi-nation. Polydrug intake has been found in 21 victims, and 9 in combination with alcohol. The most detected drugs were cocaine and D9THC, followed by benzodiazepines. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) > 1,5 g/L was found in most alcohol positives, both alone and in association with drugs. De-spite the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and drugs (DUID), no decrease in the number of alcohol and/or drugs related fatal road accidents has been observed. DUI and/or DUID cases were approximately one third of the entire sample study

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