Israel to Make 'Date-rape Drug' Tests Mandatory for Sexual Assault Victims

New Israeli Health Ministry policy of freezing specimens will allow detection later on of date-rape drugs that have left the body

Some of the 106 liters of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a so-called date-rape drug, seized by the Edmonton Police Service, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 12, 2013.
David Bloom / QMI Agency

Any Israeli medical center that provides first aid to sexual assault victims will be required to take and freeze urine specimens if “date-rape drug” use is suspected, as per a new procedure being formulated by the Health Ministry.

A sample would be taken and frozen even if the health-care professional suspects that only alcohol was consumed, without any other substances. The procedure is expected to be instituted in the coming weeks.

Local crisis centers report that there are several dozen cases a year involving allegations of date-rape drugs, according to Dr. Roni Berkowitz of the Health Ministry’s enforcement and supervision department.

“The problem is that date-rape drugs, mainly the common ones such as GHB and GBL, disappear from the body’s secretions, usually within eight hours. They cannot be detected after that,” he explains.

However, if the medical institution collecting the urine sample freezes it, presence of the drug could still be detected months later.

Although the number of complaints about suspected use of date-rape drugs has been rising, nobody has ever been charged with using such substances in the country. One reason is that the possibility of use of such drugs is only suggested long after they have disappeared from the body.