Nail polish detects date rape drugs

A Facebook page has been set up to garner support and raise funds to refine the prototype and get the nail polish on to the market quicker. Photo / Thinkstock
A Facebook page has been set up to garner support and raise funds to refine the prototype and get the nail polish on to the market quicker. Photo / Thinkstock

A simple coat of nail polish could soon prevent Kiwi women from falling victim to date rape.

Four United States students have created a nail polish that changes colour when exposed to date rape drugs, and support for the product is growing in New Zealand.

Undercover Colours was developed by University of North Carolina undergraduates Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan and Tasso Von Windheim.

They are now fundraising to get further testing carried out with a view to getting the varnish on the market around the world as soon as possible.

"All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use," Mr Madan told the Daily Mail.

The official Facebook page explains: "With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes colour, she'll know that something is wrong."

Aucklander Terry Vercoe, a father of five including two daughters aged 13 and 15, thought the nail polish was a great invention.

"As a parent I would encourage them to check it out, be informed and I would pay for it if they wish to try it," he said.

"Drug rape is a serious issue that impacts many lives. Any tools that can help our kids protect themselves are of interest to parents."

Mr Vercoe said he would support any fundraising campaign that assisted the development of Undercover Colours.

A Facebook page has been set up to garner support and raise funds to refine the prototype and get it on to the market quicker.

"While date rape drugs are often used to facilitate sexual assault, very little science exists for their detection," the inventors explain on the page.


The most common date rape drug in New Zealand is gamma-hydroxybutyrate - more commonly known as GHB, Fantasy and Liquid Ecstasy.

According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, it is easily used as a date rape drug because large doses can be easily mixed with liquids including water.

By itself GHB has a soapy or salty taste but when mixed with a drink it can be very difficult to detect by sight or smell.

High doses can induce a sleep-like coma where the victim is very vulnerable to sexual assault.

- NZ Herald

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