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Quantitative Analysis of Novel Synthetic Opioids, Morphine and Buprenorphine in Oral Fluid by LC-MS-MS

NCJ Number
Journal of Analytical Toxicology Volume: 42 Issue: 8 Dated: 2018 Pages: 554-561
Date Published
8 pages
Publication Series

This article presents the findings and methodology of a research project with the goal of developing and validating a comprehensive analytical method for the detection and quantification of morphine, 6-acetylmorphine, buprenorphine, U-47700, U-49900, U-50488, AH-7921, MT-45, W-18 and W-15 in oral fluid collected via Quantisal.


The opioid epidemic has become a national health emergency in the United States. Although heroin prescription opioid abuse is not uncommon, synthetic opioid use has risen dramatically, creating a public safety concern. Like traditional opioids, novel synthetic opioids are abused due to their analgesic and euphoric effects. Some adverse side effects include respiratory distress, nausea, and decreased consciousness. Synthetic opioids have emerged into the illicit and online drug market, including AH-7921, MT-45, U-series and W-series. Although originally developed by pharmaceutical companies, these substances are not well studied in humans, and comprehensive analytical methods for detecting and quantifying these opioids are limited. Oral fluid is a useful biological matrix for determining recent drug use, does not require a trained medical professional, and can be collected under direct observation, deterring adulteration. The current study used solid-phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to identify the specified designer drugs. The limits of detection and quantitation were 5 ng/mL and 10 ng/mL, respectively. Linearity was observed between 10 and 500 ng/mL (R2 0.9959). Bias and imprecision were <+/- 11.1 percent. Matrix effects ranged from 21.1 to 13.7 percent. No carryover was detected following injection of the highest calibrator. All analytes were stable (within +/- 15 percent change from baseline) under all tested conditions (24 h at room temperature, 72 h at 4 degrees C, and in the autosampler for 60 h at 4 degrees C). (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018