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Journal Article


Musshoff F, Thieme D, Schwarz G, Sachs H, Skopp G, Franz T. Drug Test. Anal. 2018; 10(4): 681-688.


Forensic Toxicological Centre (FTC) Munich, Munich, Germany.


(Copyright © 2018, John Wiley and Sons)






Although hair is widely used to identify drug use, there is a risk of false positives due to environmental contamination; this especially applies to cocaine (COC). Several strategies such as detection of norcocaine (NCOC) or cocaethylene, metabolite concentration ratios or intricate washing procedures have been proposed to differentiate actual use from contamination. The aim of the present study was to identify hydroxy metabolites of COC in hair specimens thus enabling unambiguous prove of ingestion. A suspect screening of 41 COC-positive samples for these compounds was performed by LC-QTOF-MS. Once identified, mass transitions for o-, p- and m-isomers of hydroxy COC as well as p- and m-isomers of hydroxy benzoylecgonine (BE) and hydroxy NCOC were introduced into a routine procedure for testing drugs of abuse in hair by LC-MS/MS which was applied to 576 hair samples. Any hydroxy metabolites were present in 92.2 % of COC positive hair samples; their detection rate exceeded that of cocaethylene and NCOC. Moreover, p-OH-BE, m-OH-BE as well as p-OH-NCOC and m-OH-NCOC have been identified for the first time in COC positive hair specimens. Hydroxy cocainics could be detected in samples having a negative conclusion on drug use applying hitherto established criteria. We suggest a more conclusive interpretation outcome including detection of hydroxy metabolites into the evaluation of COC positive hair samples.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Language: en


LC-MS/MS; LC-QTOF-MS; cocaine; hair testing; hydroxy metabolites


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