The emergence of new synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) onto the illicit drugs market continues to cause harm, and the overall availability of physicochemical and pharmacokinetic data for new psychoactive substances is lacking. The lipophilicity of 23 SCRAs and the plasma protein binding (PPB) of 11 SCRAs was determined. Lipophilicity was determined using a validated chromatographic hydrophobicity index (CHI) log D method; tested SCRAs showed moderate to high lipophilicity, with experimental log D7.4 ranging from 2.48 (AB-FUBINACA) to 4.95 (4F-ABUTINACA). These results were also compared to in silico predictions generated using seven commercially available software packages and online tools (Canvas; ChemDraw; Gastroplus; MoKa; PreADMET; SwissADME; and XlogP). Licenced, dedicated software packages provided more accurate lipophilicity predictions than those which were free or had prediction as a secondary function; however, the latter still provided competitive estimates in most cases. PPB of tested SCRAs, as determined by equilibrium dialysis, was in the upper range of the lipophilicity scale, ranging from 90.8% (ADB-BUTINACA) to 99.9% (BZO-HEXOXIZID). The high PPB of these drugs may contribute to reduced rate of clearance and extended durations of pharmacological effects compared to lesser-bound SCRAs. The presented data improve understanding of the behaviour of these drugs in the body. Ultimately, similar data and predictions may be used in the prediction of the structure and properties of drugs yet to emerge on the illicit market.
By Andrew M. Brandon, Steven R. Baginski, Caroline Peet, Pat Dugard, Henrik Green, Oliver B. Sutcliffe, Niamh Nic Daéid, Lorna A. Nisbet, Kevin D. Read, Craig McKenzie