Over the past two decades, prescription and illicit opioid use has led to changes in public health policy to address the increasing number of opiate/ opioid-related deaths. UCT’s flagship sorbent, Clean Screen® DAU, is recognized as the finest solid phase extraction (SPE) sorbent for opiate/opioid extraction and analysis from biological samples. In a new paper published in Journal of Forensic Sciences (House Publication of American Academy of Forensic Sciences) JFS doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13511 by Love et al., cases submitted for analysis to Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office were reviewed between 2004 through 2015, where heroin was listed as a significant contributor or as the cause of death. Heroin administration is confirmed in forensic toxicology laboratories by identification and quantification of 6-Monacetyl morphine (6-MAM). For drug analyses in the Medical Examiner’s laboratory, Free and Total opiates/opioids were quantified for codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, along with free oxycodone and free oxymorphone, using GC/MS equipped with a capillary GC-MS column following glucuronide treatment (blood total opiates/ opioids only) and solid-phase extraction (Clean® Screen, UCT, Inc., Bristol, PA, USA). Samples were then derivatized with N,O-Bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA).
The authors identified 322 heroin-related deaths, which were predominantly male (255; 79%). 6-MAM median (range) concentrations were as follows: blood (n = 7), 0.010 (0.006–0.078) mg/L; urine (n = 30), 0.359 (0.009–1.75) mg/L; and vitreous humor (n = 31), 0.034 (0.004–0.24) mg/L. Free morphine was measurable in 273 cases and the percent free morphine (range), when grouped by Cause of Death (COD), was opioid (n = 124), 28% (2.2%–92%), and mixed drug toxicity (n = 135), 35.3% (1.5%–100%); (p < 0.01). Quantitation of 6-MAM in blood and vitreous humor, along with a free to total morphine ratio >26%, was useful in establishing these heroin-related deaths. This study demonstrates why forensic toxicologists who require the finest of SPE sorbents for medico-judicial cases turn to UCT for their materials. For more information on UCT’s Clean Screen® SPE line, click here.