Chemical submission to commit robbery: A series of involuntary intoxications with flunitrazepam in Asian travellers in Brussels
Department of Emergency Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Saint-Pierre, Brussels, Belgium, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Electronic address: . Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
(Impact Factor: 0.76).
10/2013; 20(7):918-921. DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2013.06.017
Between January 17, 2003 and August 29, 2003, the Emergency Department admitted a patient who had been surreptitiously intoxicated and robbed of his valuables every Friday. The first cases were considered anecdotal, but criminal activity was rapidly suspected. The cohort includes 16 male Asian patients aged 28-50 years. All the victims had just arrived in Brussels through one of the main rail station of the town and were admitted via the emergency ambulance service from different locations in the centre of Brussels around the CHU Saint-Pierre Hospital. Haemodynamic parameters upon admission were within normal limits. The Glasgow Coma Scale was equal or higher than 9/15 in 14 of the 16 victims. Toxicology screening obtained in 12 patients revealed the presence of flunitrazepam, which was further quantified at levels ranging from 21 to 75 μg/l. One of the Japanese patients, who returned to Belgium afterwards for professional reasons, was approached by the police and accepted to press charges. This allowed the police to investigate and send undercover agents to the railway station on Friday afternoons and evenings. They found a person who was offering welcome cookies to Asian travellers. He arrived from Amsterdam and returned once his crime was committed. Flunitrazepam is well known as a rape drug. We report a series of victims in whom flunitrazepam was used to facilitate robbery.
Available from: Giuseppe Carrà
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ABSTRACT: More than half a century after their discovery, benzodiazepines (BDZs) still represent one of the largest and most widely prescribed groups of psychotropic compounds, not only in clinical psychiatry but also in the entire medical field. Over the last two decades, however, there has been an increased focus on the development of antidepressants and antipsychotics on the part of the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians, and researchers, with a reduced interest in BDZs, in spite of their widespread clinical use. As a consequence, many psychiatric residents, medical students, nurses, and other mental health professionals might receive poor academic teaching and training regarding these agents, and have the false impression that BDZs represent an outdated chapter in clinical psychopharmacology. However, recent advances in the field, including findings concerning epidemiology, addiction risk, and drug interactions, as well as the introduction of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition with related diagnostic changes, strongly encourage an updated appraisal of the use of BDZs in clinical practice. During a recent thematic event convened with the aim of approaching this topic in a critical manner, a group of young Italian psychiatrists attempted to highlight possible flaws in current teaching pathways, identify the main clinical pros and cons regarding current use of BDZs in clinical practice, and provide an updated overview of their use across specific clinical areas and patient populations. The main results are presented and discussed in this review.
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