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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2010 Aug 1;52(4):609-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2010.01.027. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Development and validation of an EI-GC-MS method for the determination of benzodiazepine drugs and their metabolites in blood: applications in clinical and forensic toxicology.

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Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Mikras Asias 75, Athens 11527, Greece.


Benzodiazepines are used widely in daily clinical practice, due to their multiple pharmacological actions. The frequent problems associated with the wide use of benzodiazepines, as well as the multiple incidents of poisonings, led to the necessity for the development of a precise, sensitive and rapid method for the simultaneous determination of the 23 most commonly used benzodiazepines (diazepam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, bromazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, medazepam, flurazepam, fludiazepam, tetrazepam, chlordiazepoxide, clobazam, midazolam, flunitrazepam, 7-amino-flunitrazepam, triazolam, prazepam, nimetazepam, nitrazepam, temazepam, lormetazepam, clonazepam, camazepam) in blood. A gas chromatographic method combined with mass spectrometric detection was developed, optimized and validated for the determination of the above substances. This method includes liquid-liquid extraction with chloroform at pH 9 and two stages of derivatization using tetramethylammonium hydroxide and propyliodide (propylation), as well as a mixture of triethylamine:propionic anhydride (propionylation). The recoveries were higher than 74% for all the benzodiazepines. The calibration curves were linear within the dynamic range of each benzodiazepine with a correlation coefficient higher than 0.9981. The limits of detection and quantification for each analyte were statistically calculated from the relative calibration curves. Accuracy and precision were also calculated and were found to be less than 8.5% and 11.1%, respectively. The developed method was successfully applied for the investigation of both forensic and clinical toxicological cases of accidental and suicidal poisoning.

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