Stability of therapeutic drugs in sera collected in Becton-Dickinson VACUTAINER serum separator SST™ tubes has been well studied. Recently, the Greiner Vacuette serum separator tube has become available for blood collection. However, stability of therapeutic drugs in sera when the specimen is collected in the Greiner tube has not been reported. The authors studied the stability of 15 commonly monitored drugs in sera when stored on the gel of the Greiner serum separator tubes. The drugs studied were amikacin, gentamycin, tobramycin, vancomycin, digoxin, quinidine, theophylline, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, valproic acid, tricyclic antidepressants, salicylate, acetaminophen, and ethanol. The authors compared the concentrations of drugs in sera stored in plain tubes (no gel) and in sera stored in the Greiner tubes containing serum separator gel. They observed a significant decline in the concentrations of tricyclic antidepressants when stored in the Greiner tubes. Interestingly, concentrations of amitriptyline declined more than its metabolite nortriptyline and concentration of imipramine also decreased more than its metabolite desipramine. The concentration of carbamazepine also decreased slightly over time when serum was stored in the Greiner tube. Although declines in carbamazepine concentrations on prolonged storage in the Greiner tubes were statistically significant, the decreases may not be clinically significant. The concentrations of the other drugs studied did not decline when stored in the Greiner tubes. The authors conclude that the Greiner brand tube is not suitable for blood collection for analysis of tricyclic antidepressants.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas
Received September 27, 1999; accepted February 1, 2000.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Amitava Dasgupta, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 6431 Fannin, MSB 2.292, Houston, TX 77030.