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TARGETED SCREENING FOR COMMON DRUGS OF ABUSE IN HAIR SAMPLES

Staikos, Voula; Beyer, Jochen; Gerostamoulos, Dimitri; Drummer, Olaf H.

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Pathology - Journal of the RCPA: 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue - p S28
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Introduction: In recent years the demand for hair testing has increased considerably. Welfare agencies, family courts, child protection units and also workplaces are now requesting hair testing, due to it providing a larger window of opportunity in detecting drugs of abuse.

Methods: Hair specimens were collected to determine the presence of drugs in four cases involving: (a) A young child who presented ill to hospital emergency department with the possibility of being under the influence of unknown substances; (b) a subject suspected of using illicit substances who was ordered to undergo hair analysis by the legal courts; (c) a pharmacist suspected of using illicit drugs who was ordered to undergo hair analysis by the Pharmacy Board before registration; and (d) an alleged victim who reported to the police many months after a drug facilitated sexual assault episode.

Results: In the drug facilitated sexual assault case, zolpidem was the sole drug confirmed in the hair. In all remaining cases, both methamphetamine and amphetamine were confirmed. Various opioids were also detected, including methadone, 6‐monoacetylmorphine, morphine, codeine, pethidine, tramadol and oxycodone. Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol was confirmed in two of the four cases, with diazepam, the designer drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and cocaine detected in one case.

Conclusions: Hair testing can be a powerful tool for forensic and clinical applications. Drug testing in hair enables the detection of drugs when urine or blood are no longer available, such as in drug facilitated sexual assault cases where the determination of a single drug exposure is crucial for a timed event.

Reference

1. Staikos V, Beyer J, Gerostamoulos D, Drummer OH. A targeted screening method for the most common drugs of abuse in hair using LC-MS/MS. AFTA 2009.
© 2010 Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia