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Forensic Sci Int. 1996 Feb 9;77(3):159-67.

Formation of O-6-acetylmorphine in the 'homebake' preparation of heroin.

Author information

  • Illicit Drugs Group, Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited (ESR:Forensic), Wellington, New Zealand.


When O-6-acetylmorphine is found in toxicological or in illicit drugs cases it is usually assumed to be the product of heroin degradation. It is, therefore, used as evidence for the prior existence of heroin. In this study, it was found that, when morphine is partly acetylated with acetyl chloride, O-6-acetylmorphine is produced. In some experiments, partial acetylation of morphine sulphate yielded mixtures which contained O-6-acetylmorphine, unreacted morphine and only traces of O-3-acetylmorphine and heroin. Therefore, in cases where O-6-acetylmorphine is found in the absence of heroin, it should not be used as evidence of heroin having been present.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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