Methoxyacetylfentanyl and cyclopropylfentanyl are two of the newest illicit opioids that are infiltrating the heroin market. They both have been reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration in their third quarter report of 2017 to have been chemically identified seven and five times, respectively.
In a recent paper authored by Melissa F. Fogarty et al., published in Journal of Analytical Toxicology (doi: 10.1093/jat/bky035), an analytical method was developed and validated to extract fentalogs from whole blood samples using UCT’s Clean Screen ® DAU. The method used LC-MS/MS for the quantitation of fentanyl, norfentanyl and 17 fentanyl analogs: furanylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, despropionylfentanyl (4-ANPP), methoxyacetylfentanyl, tetrahydrofuran fentanyl, fluoro-isobutyrylfentanyl, acrylfentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, ortho-fluorofentanyl, carfentanil, betamethylfentanyl, isobutyrylfentanyl, para-methylfentanyl, cyclopentylfentanyl, cyclopropylfentanyl, beta-hydroxyfentanyl and alpha-methylfentanyl. The calibration range for all the fentalog compounds was 0.1–100 ng per mL.
Whole blood samples from 42 postmortem cases were tested for cyclopropylfentanyl and methoxyacetylfentanyl using the Clean Screen® DAU SPE extraction procedure. The mean and median concentrations for the cases testing positive for cyclopropylfentanyl (n = 32) was 15.3 (±11.9) ng per mL and 12.3 ng per mL, respectively, with a range of 1.4–43.3 ng per mL. The mean (±SD) and median concentrations for the 11 cases quantitatively confirmed (3 cases were below the limit of quantitation) for methoxyacetylfentanyl was 17.7 (±11.4) ng per mL and 15.1 ng per Ml, respectively, with a range of 0.21–39.9 ng per mL.
These novel fentalogs typically are outside the scope of routine drug testing by hospitals and toxicology laboratories or below the sensitivity levels for the detection of these substances in biological specimens. The use of Clean Screen® DAU demonstrates the efficiency of solid phase over alternative extraction methods. This article shows why UCT Clean Screen® DAU is a popular choice for studies involving emerging drugs of abuse.