Currently, more than 200 marketed medicines, and approximately one-third of the most successful – so called ‘blockbuster’ – drugs contain fluorine atoms in their structure. Fluorine-containing compounds span a wide variety of therapeutic classes: anti-cancer drugs, antifungal agents and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), for example. Fluorine is also now commonly found in illicit and illegal drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids and psychedelic phenethylamines. Michael H. Frey and Ron Crouch from JEOL USA explain how we can use NMR to
distinguish readily between these legitimate and illegitimate substances.