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Journal Article


Launiainen T, Ojanperä I. Drug Test. Anal. 2014; 6(4): 308-316.


University of Helsinki, Hjelt Institute, Department of Forensic Medicine, PO Box 40 (Kytösuontie 11), FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland.


(Copyright © 2014, John Wiley and Sons)






Therapeutic drug concentrations measured in plasma are of limited value as reference intervals for interpretation in post-mortem (PM) toxicology. In this study, drug concentration distributions were studied in PM femoral venous blood from 57 903 Finnish autopsy cases representing all causes of death during an 11-year period. Cause-of-death information was obtained from death certificates issued by forensic pathologists. Median, mean, and upper percentile (90th, 95th, 97.5th) concentrations were calculated for 129 drugs. To illustrate how PM median concentrations relate to established therapeutic ranges in plasma, a PM blood/plasma relationship was calculated for each drug. Males represented 75% of the subjects and showed a lower median age (55 yrs) than females (59 yrs). In 43% of these cases, blood alcohol concentration was higher than 0.2‰, and the median was 1.8‰. Sixty-one (47%) of the 129 drugs showed a PM blood/plasma relationship of 1. For 22 drugs (17%), the relationship was <1, and for 46 drugs (35%), the relationship was >1. No marked correlation was found between the PM blood/plasma relationship and the volume of distribution (Vd ). For 36 drugs, more than 10% of cases were fatal poisonings attributed to this drug as the main finding. These drug concentration distributions based on a large database provide a helpful reference not only to forensic toxicologists and pathologists but also to clinical pharmacologists in charge of interpreting drug concentrations in PM cases. © 2013 The Authors. Drug Testing and Analysis published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Language: en


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