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Drug Checking Deep Dive: Introduction to Bulk Scan

Updated: Apr 3

Amplifi ID Bulk Scan Drug Checking
Amplifi ID with drug sample inserted in the bulk scan attachment.

Last month we pushed our biggest update yet to Amplifi ID’s software which included the introduction of bulk scan. Our goal at Spectra Plasmonics is to build the most comprehensive point-of-care drug checking device to provide as much actionable information on substances as possible. With the addition of bulk scan, Amplifi ID can provide even more sample information to help you and your clients make informed decisions. This post will go over how bulk scan works and the benefits this new scan type provides.

What is Bulk Scan?

Bulk scan is a rapid, non-destructive technique that allows you to detect high concentration components of a sample. By placing the sample in a clear plastic bag and then directly scanning with the laser, results can be generated without destroying pieces of the drug. Common cuts and buffs such as caffeine, mannitol and sucrose can be detected alongside drug targets that are typically founded in high concentrations such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Bulk scan is limited by its analytical sensitivity. It can only detect substances at approximately 5% weight value or higher. Bulk and trace scan work together to cover the entire range of concentrations to provide a detailed breakdown of the sample composition.

The bulk scan library more than doubles the number of drug targets Amplifi ID can detect. Aside from detecting new substances, you can gain additional insights into sample composition from bulk scan results. Fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drug targets are all able to be detected with either bulk or trace scan. This enables what we call semi-quantification of a drug target.

Recall that bulk scan can only detect the presence of a target if its above 5% weight value. If an opioid sample is tested and fentanyl or an analogue are detected with both trace and bulk scan, this means that at least 5%+ of the sample contains fentanyl. The opposite would be true if fentanyl was only detected with trace scan.

Why is Bulk Scan Important for Drug Checking?

There is a common misconception that cuts and buffs for the most part are harmless fillers that are used by dealers to dilute down the target substance to make additional profit. While this is a key motivation behind cuts and buffs, many of these targets can have adverse effects on users. Caffeine is an extremely common cutting agent in opioid and cocaine samples. Without prior knowledge that caffeine was in an opioid sample, if an overdose occurred the caffeine could artificially raise the heart rate of the user confusing site staff or first responders. A more dangerous example of an added buff is Levamisole, which can often be found in combination with cocaine samples. Levamisole can cause neutropenia which is the lowering of the white blood cell count. These are just 2 of many common cuts and buffs found in North America's drug landscape that can have added and sometimes unwanted physiological effects. We'll cover effects of cuts and buffs and polydrug adverse effects in a future post.

Levamisole a bulk scan drug checking substance found in cocaine
Levamisole is an animal dewormer not approved for human use.

Bulk scan adds an additional layer of information to sample results. By expanding the library of detectable substances and providing detailed insights into sample composition, bulk scan empowers harm reduction organizations to educate, inform, and support individuals in making safer choices.

Have additional questions about bulk scan? Reach out to us at the link below.


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