To develop a classroom activity that applied pertinent pharmaceutical concepts to examine the use and limitations of a commercially available test drink coaster in detecting the presence of a date-rape drug, sodium γ-hydroxybutyrate (NaGHB), in beverages.
An activity exercise involving a combination of self-study, hands on participation, and classroom discussion was developed. Topics incorporated into the activity were drug-assisted rape, the concepts of false positives and negatives, and prodrug and pH chemistry.
Based on questionnaires completed by the students, the intended concepts were reinforced and students demonstrated an increased awareness of the potential shortcomings of the commercial test devices. The activity was well received by the majority of students.
The developed activity stimulated student awareness and interest in several principles relevant in pharamceutical education, including drug-assisted rape, consumer-based drug testing of NaGHB, and the chemical basis for its limitations. The activity requires no special equipment other than the drink coasters and can be easily completed in one 2-hour classroom session.
Keywords: GHB, drug of abuse, sodium hydroxybutyrate, laboratory tests