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Analysis of Acetyl Fentanyl in Postmortem Specimens by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS): Method Validation and Case Report

Marissa J Finkelstein, Chris W Chronister, Christina Stanley, Laurie M Ogilvie, Bruce A Goldberger
Journal of Analytical Toxicology 2019 February 15
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a warning regarding a new recreational drug, acetyl fentanyl. Acetyl fentanyl is a μ-opioid receptor agonist, and its pharmacological effects include euphoria, altered mood, miosis and central nervous system depression. The objective of this report was to develop a sensitive and specific method for the quantitation of acetyl fentanyl by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in postmortem casework. Acetyl fentanyl was isolated from biological matrices using solid-phase extraction and acetyl fentanyl-13C6 was employed as an internal standard. The method was validated utilizing the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology's published method validation parameters, and the biological matrices used for analysis were postmortem blood and urine. In addition to the quantitation of acetyl fentanyl, a demographic study of cases obtained from the Rhode Island Office of State Medical Examiners and the University of Florida Health Pathology Laboratories-Forensic Toxicology Laboratory was performed to examine potential risk factors for acetyl fentanyl use. The results from this study found that the blood concentrations in these individuals ranged from 17 to 945 ng/mL. This suggests acetyl fentanyl is less potent than its prototype drug, fentanyl and requires an increased dose to achieve its desired effects. The demographic analysis indicated white males aged 21-40 years and individuals with a previous history of drug use have the highest risk for acetyl fentanyl abuse.


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