Author(s): Kuhlman JJ Jr, McCaulley R, Valouch TJ, Behonick GS, Kuhlman JJ Jr, McCaulley R, Valouch TJ, Behonick GS
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Abstract We report the rapidly increasing finding of fentanyl in medical examiner cases in southwestern Virginia. During the past 3 years, fentanyl cases have increased from 3 in 2000 to 12 in 2002. The first medical examiner case of 2003 was a fentanyl poisoning. Nineteen of 23 cases were attributed to fentanyl misuse or abuse of fentanyl transdermal patches. Routes of administration were transdermal, transmucosal/oral, intravenous, and combinations of routes of administration. Fentanyl was identified using a solid-phase extraction basic drug screen in blood and/or urine followed by full scan gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in the electron impact ionization mode. Fentanyl quantitation was performed using selected ion monitoring GC-MS. The method was linear from 1 to 50 microg/L with a limit of quantitation of 1 microg/L. Fentanyl blood concentrations ranged from 2 to 48 microg/L with a mean concentration of 18 microg/L. The age range of the decedents was 16-53 with an average age of 37. Southwestern Virginia is currently a "hot spot" for misuse and abuse of oxycodone and methadone. The rapid rise in the number of fentanyl cases over the past three years, the increasing availability of fentanyl patches, and the large number of case histories indicating misuse or abuse suggest that fentanyl is rapidly becoming an additional desired opioid similar to oxycodone and methadone.
This article was published in J Anal Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research