Microchimica Acta

, 185:247 | Cite as

Molecularly imprinted polymers for the detection of illegal drugs and additives: a review

  • Deli Xiao
  • Yue Jiang
  • Yanping Bi
Review Article


This review (with 154 refs.) describes the current status of using molecularly imprinted polymers in the extraction and quantitation of illicit drugs and additives. The review starts with an introduction into some synthesis methods (lump MIPs, spherical MIPs, surface imprinting) of MIPs using illicit drugs and additives as templates. The next section covers applications, with subsections on the detection of illegal additives in food, of doping in sports, and of illicit addictive drugs. A particular focus is directed towards current limitations and challenges, on the optimization of methods for preparation of MIPs, their applicability to aqueous samples, the leakage of template molecules, and the identification of the best balance between adsorption capacity and selectivity factor. At last, the need for convincing characterization methods, the lack of uniform parameters for defining selectivity, and the merits and demerits of MIPs prepared using nanomaterials are addressed. Strategies are suggested to solve existing problems, and future developments are discussed with respect to a more widespread use in relevant fields.

Graphical abstract

This review gives a comprehensive overview of the advances made in molecularly imprinting of polymers for use in the extraction and quantitation of illicit drugs and additives. Methods for syntheses, highlighted applications, limitations and current challenges are specifically addressed.


Illicit drugs Molecular imprinting Polymerization Sports doping Surface imprinting Trace substance 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81402899) and Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation, China (No. ZR2014HP020).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2018_2735_MOESM1_ESM.docx (586 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 586 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Analytical ChemistryChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Biomedical Functional MaterialsChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.School of Pharmaceutical SciencesTaishan Medical UniversityTai’anPeople’s Republic of China

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