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Forensic Sci Int. 2006 Dec 20;164(2-3):235-9. Epub 2006 Mar 22.

The redistribution of selected psychiatric drugs in post-mortem cases.

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  • 1Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Southbank, VIC, Australia.


The post-mortem redistribution of a number of psychiatric drugs was investigated. A portion of liver, the gastric contents and blood collected from heart and femoral sites was obtained from 13 cases and analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Drugs detected included five selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; venlafaxine, a serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor; and risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic. Heart blood concentrations were significantly higher (3.4-fold on average) than those measured in femoral blood when results from all drugs were included together. The range for parent drug concentrations in these two blood specimens was 0.5-6.2. There was no significant correlation of the post-mortem interval, the liver concentration and content of drugs in the gastric contents to the heart:femoral blood concentration ratio. These data serve to demonstrate that variable increases in blood concentration occur post-mortem and limit the interpretative value of such toxicological data.

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