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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2011 Sep 15;25(17):2407-17. doi: 10.1002/rcm.5136.

Atmospheric identification of active ingredients in over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and drugs of abuse by atmospheric pressure glow discharge mass spectrometry (APGD-MS).

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Surface and Microanalysis Science Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA.


Atmospheric pressure glow discharge mass spectrometry was used to characterize the active ingredients in pharmaceutical over-the-counter (OTC) drug formulations (Tylenol Allergy, Alka-Seltzer Plus Nighttime, Sudafed, Aleve and Mucinex DM) and drugs of abuse (crack cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and hydrocodone). Material was desorbed and directly ionized under atmospheric conditions by allowing the substance to come in direct contact with the plasma followed by mass spectrometric detection. With this technique, controlled substances and OTC medications were readily distinguished from one another. Characteristic mass spectra were identified for the active ingredients in the OTC and drugs of abuse. Importantly, all drug compounds studied here, both OTC and illicit, demonstrated signals for either molecular ions or protonated molecules as well as fragmentation patterns that are readily identified in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) electron ionization (EI) mass spectral library. It is believed that this technique holds promise for forensic and law enforcement communities for real-time atmospheric analysis of drugs with database-searchable spectra of controlled substances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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