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Pharmacological Overview of Calmatives

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2007
4 pages
This article provides a pharmcological overview of calmatives.
Often termed interchangeably as chemical calmatives, calmative agents, calmative drugs, or chemical weapons, calmatives are a class of drugs that tend to produce a calming or sedative effect. These agents could be considered for law enforcement applications, such as for dispersing a crowd, controlling a riot, or calming a noncompliant offender. Ultimately, a calmative chosen for less lethal law enforcement purposes should exhibit the following characteristics: an easy and versatile route of administration, fast onset of action, a short drug effect duration, a consistent dose response, reversible action by antidote or rapid metabolism, and no long-lasting or permanent toxicity or side effects. A few ways that a nonlethal calmative might be administered, depending on the law enforcement environment, would include a topical or transdermal skin application, an aerosol spray, an intramuscular dart, or a rubber bullet filled with an inhalable agent. However, the ability to target a specific wrongdoer or horde, while not affecting outlying innocent bystanders, through a discriminatory application, has yet to be mastered. Until the proper administration techniques for a controllable yet effective calmative drug meet the demands of public welfare, calmatives, as riot control agents, will continue to be shelved. Discussed in this article are: drug delivery and routes of administration, an overview of the mechanisms of drug action within the body, including pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles, and a description of how proposed drugs are researched and developed. After the introduction to pharmacology, the specific area of the human body that calmatives generally target, the nervous system, and how calmatives drugs affect this area are detailed. Each major class of calmative is subsequently described in terms of drug action and applicability, as well as general considerations for developing an ideal calmative drug for law enforcement purposes. References

Date Published: July 1, 2007