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Abuse liability

Objective measurement of the abuse potential of novel compounds is crucial to ensure the product is safe for the intended use, helping to mitigate in-market problems of incorrect consumption. We have developed an assessment battery for the subjective and objective measurement of human abuse potential of compounds.

Our recommended battery to assess human abuse liability tracks closely with effects of addictive substances on brain reward circuitry,1,2 discriminates between opioid compounds and is sensitive to dose-dependent effects. It successfully detects individuals capable of differentiating placebo from subtle reference compounds with abuse potential.

The tests are clinically-relevant, incorporating comprehensive measures of subjective effects, but also objective measures such as the sedative effects related to accident risk4.

Common Measures:

  • Drug effects
  • Overall drug liking
  • Drug similarity
  • Subjective drug value
  • Likelihood to take drug again


Key References

National Drug Threat Assessment Summary. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2013.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse, October 2011.

Kalivas PW, Volkow ND. The neural basis of addiction: a pathology of motivation and choice. Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Aug;162(8):1403-13.

Berridge KC, Robinson TE, Aldridge JW. Dissecting components of reward: 'liking', 'wanting', and learning. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2009 Feb;9(1):65-73.

Belin D, Mar AC, Dalley JW, Robbins TW, Everitt BJ. High impulsivity predicts the switch to compulsive cocaine-taking. Science. 2008 Jun 6;320(5881):1352-5.


  1. Volkow ND, Ding YS, Fowler JS, Wang GJ, Logan J, Gatley JS, Dewey S, Ashby C, Liebermann J, Hitzemann R, et al. Is methylphenidate like cocaine? Studies on their pharmacokinetics and distribution in the human brain. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995 Jun;52(6):456-63.
  2. Fowler JS, Volkow ND, Logan J, Alexoff D, Telang F, Wang GJ, Wong C, Ma Y, Kriplani A, Pradhan K, Schlyer D, Jayne M, Hubbard B, Carter P, Warner D, King P, Shea C, Xu Y, Muench L, Apelskog K. Fast uptake and long-lasting binding of methamphetamine in the human brain: comparison with cocaine. Neuroimage. 2008 Dec;43(4):756-63.
  3. Hindmarch I. Instrumental assessment of psychomotor functions and the effects of psychotropic drugs. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 1994;380:49-52.