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J Anal Toxicol. 2011 May;35(4):205-10.

Detection of p-chloroamphetamine in urine samples with mass spectrometry.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Biotechnology, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan.


Designer drugs are introduced periodically to avoid detection and to provide new drugs with different pharmacological activities. During our routine analysis of amphetamine in urine samples, we observed one sample that reacted with immunoassay with high activity. There is one prominent peak in the gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (GC-MS) chromatogram. However, no amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDA, MDMA, MDEA, or ephedrine was detected with GC-MS. Careful examination of the mass spectrum indicated the presence of one fragment ion (m/z 140), which is similar to the base peak of trifluoroacetic anhydride derivative of amphetamine. The characteristic ion cluster representing the presence of one chlorine atom was observed. Investigation with liquid chromatography (LC)-MS detected an unknown compound with molecular ion of m/z 170. This compound was tentatively identified as chloroamphetamine. Pure standard material of p-chloroamphetamine (PCA) was purchased and analyzed with both GC-MS and LC-MS. Identical GC-MS spectra and LC-MS-MS fragmentation patterns were obtained. A GC-MS procedure was developed for the quantitation of PCA. The limits of detection and quantification were 10 μg/L. Precision was between 1.26% and 4.26%, and bias was between -0.91% and 4.27%. The prevalence PCA positive rate is 0.35% of the samples screened positive for amphetamine.

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