Volume 45, Issue 1 (January 2000)
Tracing the Source of Illicit Drugs Through Plastic Packaging—A Database
Common plastic drug packaging material available in Australia and in Asia was analyzed using a standard protocol including optical examination, UV-visible and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry. The aims were to determine whether there are significant differences between different sources, to establish the evidential value of these examinations, and to build a database of common packaging material.
Visual examination was the most effective means for discriminating samples. Thickness and weight measurements provided useful information. Visualization of machining marks using crossed polarized light was found to be useful in the comparison process. UV-visible spectrophotometry has some value for distinguishing samples. Fourier transform infrared analysis was a good technique for determination of the polymer composition of the packaging. Significant differences were observed between Australian and overseas samples.
The “Australian Database of Drug Packaging Materials” was created to systematically collate all of the collected data for application on personal computers. It is concluded that the properties of plastic packaging materials can be excellent indicators for identifying the specific brand or origin of the packaging.