Evaluation of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine concentrations in human urine samples and a comparison of the specificity of DRI amphetamines and Abuscreen online (KIMS) amphetamines screening immunoassays

Peter R Stout, Kevin L Klette, Carl K Horn
Journal of Forensic Sciences 2004, 49 (1): 160-4
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of two amphetamine class screening reagents to exclude ephedrine (EPH), pseudoephedrine (PSEPH), and phenylpropanolamine (PPA) from falsely producing positive immunoassay screening results. The study also sought to characterize the prevalence and concentration distributions of EPH, PSEPH, and PPA in samples that produced positive amphetamine screening results. Approximately 27,400 randomly collected human urine samples from Navy and Marine Corps members were simultaneously screened for amphetamines using the DRI and Abuscreen online immunoassays at a cutoff concentration of 500 ng/mL. All samples that screened positive were confirmed for amphetamine (AMP), methamphetamine (MTH), 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), EPH, PSEPH, and PPA by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The DRI AMP immunoassay identified 1,104 presumptive amphetamine positive samples, of which only 1.99% confirmed positive for the presence of AMP, MTH, MDA, or MDMA. In contrast, the online AMP reagent identified 317 presumptive amphetamine positives with a confirmation rate for AMP, MTH, MDA, or MDMA of 7.94%. The presence of EPH, PSEPH, or PPA was confirmed in 833 of the 1,104 samples that failed to confirm positive for AMP, MTH, MDA, or MDMA; all of the 833 samples contained PSEPH. When compared to the entire screened sample set, PSEPH was present in approximately 3%, EPH in 0.9%, and PPA in 0.8% of the samples. The results indicate that cross reactivities for EPH, PSEPH, and PPA are greater than reported by the manufacturer of these reagents. The distribution of concentrations indicates that very large concentrations of EPH, PSEPH, and PPA are common.

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