RALEIGH: Drug detecting nail polish doesn't stop date rape - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Drug detecting nail polish doesn't solve date rape problem, expert says

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A novel approach by North Carolina State University students to combat date rape -- developing a nail polish that can detect date rape drugs -- drew tentative approval Tuesday from a woman who deals with the issue for InterAct of Wake County.

"We know that one in four college students -- women on college campuses -- have either experienced rape or attempted rape," said Stephanie Francis, the director of education training and engagement for InterAct of Wake County.

Four students in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at N.C. State teamed up to invent a nail polish that changes color when it comes in contact with date-rape drugs.

Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB often go undetected because they are often odorless and colorless.

Rohypnol used to be in white tablet form, but recently it's been formulated to be green with a blue core to help identify tampered drinks at clubs. But generic versions of Rohypnol may not contain the blue dye.

The drugs can cause partial amnesia and can be used to facilitate sexual assaults.

The nail polish, called "Undercover Colors," changes color when it comes into contact with date-rape drugs, so the hope is that people who wear the nail polish will stir their drinks with their finger. If their nail polish changes color, it signals a problem.

But Francis, while saying the nail polish is a great idea, said more focus needs to be placed on the perpetrators and not the victims.

"We want to be real careful when we think about rape and sexual assault [that] the responsibility of preventing it doesn't rely on the victims and survivors, but that really needs to lie with the perpetrators," she said.

The nail polish, called "Undercover Colors," changes color when it comes into contact with date-rape drugs, so the hope is that people who wear the nail polish will stir their drinks with their finger. If their nail polish changes color, it signals a problem.

The marketing behind the new product is "The First Fashion Company Empowering Women To Prevent Sexual Assault."

Especially since there has always been a huge party culture on college campuses, students say the nail polish will be just one more tool to help end the cycle of rape.

The nail polish caught the eye of an investor who paid out $100,000 at the K50 Startup Showcase for the product demo of Undercover Colors.

The students also won $11,250 from a contest held by North Carolina State's Entrepreneurship Initiative.

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Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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