Multiplex detection of 14 fentanyl analogues and U-47700 in biological samples: Application to a panel of French hospitalized patients.Forensic Sci Int. 2020 Dec; 317:110437.FS
Synthetic opioids (SO) associated with the recent alarming increase of deaths and intoxications in United States of America and Europe are not detected by the usual first-line opiates drug screening assays. We developed a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analytical method for the multiplex detection of 14 fentanyl analogues (2-furanylfentanyl, 4-ANPP, 4-methoxybutyrylfentanyl, acrylfentanyl, alfentanil, carfentanil, despropionyl-2-fluorofentanyl, fentanyl, methoxyacetylfentanyl, norfentanyl, ocfentanil, remifentanil, sufentanil and valerylfentanyl) and U-47700 in whole blood and urine samples. The method was validated according to the requirements of ISO 15189. A simple and fast liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) with De-Tox Tube-A was performed leading to better recovery of molecules in urine than in blood samples. Depending on the compound, the limits of detection (LODs) ranged from 0.01 to 0.10 ng/mL and from 0.02 to 0.05 ng/mL in whole blood and urine, respectively. Calibration curves were linear in the range 0.5-50.0 ng/mL and the limit of quantification (LOQ) ranged from 0.10 to 0.40 ng/mL in blood. Internal quality controls at 1 and 40 ng/mL showed intra-day and between-day precision and accuracy bias below 10% in urine and 15% in blood. The method was applied to the screening of 211 urine samples from patients admitted in emergency or addiction departments. The presence of legal fentanyl analogues in 5 urine samples was justified by their therapeutic use as analgesics. Only one patient was concerned by fentanyl misuse and addiction whereas no illegal SO was detected. This study is not in favor of a huge misuse of SO in the Lorraine region.