Identification and Quantification of Antipsychotics in Blood Samples by LC-MS-MS: Case Reports and Data from Three Years of Routine Analysis

Paula Proença, Carla Monteiro, Carla Mustra, Alda Claro, João Franco, Francisco Corte-Real
Journal of Analytical Toxicology 2020 December 12, 44 (8): 915-922
Antipsychotic drugs (AP) are widely prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis. The pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia is often performed with the simultaneous use of two or more antipsychotic agents to achieve the desired control of psychotic symptoms Available AP include both conventional (typical) and new (atypical) antipsychotic medications. Atypical AP, such as quetiapine, now account for the vast majority of AP prescriptions. In forensic toxicology, AP are of considerable interest because of their potential abuse and their involvement in intoxications and suicides. The authors retrospectively examined AP positive cases detected in samples collected during autopsies performed in the Forensic Clinical and Pathology Service of National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences Centre Branch or in other autopsies carried out in the central region of Portugal, between January 2016 and December 2018. A quantitative liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay was developed for the simultaneous determination of 16 AP (amisulpride, aripiprazole, chlorpromazine, clozapine, cyamemazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol, levomepromazine, melperone, olanzapine, paliperidone, promethazine, quetiapine, risperidone, sulpiride and ziprasidone) in blood samples of postmortem cases. The Laboratory of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology received 3,588 requests for toxicological analysis: 1,413 cases were positive for drugs from which 351 (24.8%) cases were positive for AP, 60.1% from male individuals and 39.9% from female. Quetiapine was the most prevalent AP (36.5%) followed by olanzapine (20.8%). During this period, there were 25 postmortem cases with AP blood concentrations above therapeutic range, in which 36% of those are in agreement with the information received (psychological history or acute intoxication suspicion) and the manner of death was suicide. Our results point that antipsychotics are an increasingly prevalent class of drugs. AP must be measured not only in toxic concentrations but also in therapeutic levels in postmortem cases; therefore, it is important to come up with a sensitive method to cover the low therapeutic range in which AP are usually present.

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