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J Forensic Sci. 2018 Jan;63(1):326-329. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13510. Epub 2017 Apr 20.

Fatal Overdose of Gamma-hydroxybutyrate Acid After Ingestion of 1,4-Butanediol.

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Unité de Taphonomie Médico-Légale (UTML 7367), CHU Lille, University Lille, Lille, F-59000, France.
Service de Médecine Légale, CHU Lille, Lille, F-59000, France.
Service de Toxicologie Médico-Légale, CHU Lille, Lille, F-59000, France.


We report a case of fatal intoxication from 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD), which was ingested by a young and "naïve" gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) consumer during a party with the co-ingestion of alcohol, cannabis, and methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine. The following drug concentrations were found using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry on autopsy samples and on a cup and a glass found at the scene: 20,350 mg/L (bottle) for 1,4-BD; 1020 mg/L (femoral blood), 3380 mg/L (cardiac blood), 47,280 mg/L (gastric content), and 570 mg/L (vitreous humor) for GHB. The concentration of GHB is difficult to interpret in forensic cases due to the possibility of an endogenous production of GHB. The variable tolerance of the user may also modify the peri- and postmortem GHB concentrations. This case underscores the need to have many different sources of toxicology samples analyzed to avoid the hypothesis of endogenous production of GHB.


autopsy; forensic science; forensic toxicology; gamma-hydroxybutyrate acid; intoxication; overdose

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