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The drugs involved can be difficult to detect due to low dosages or chemical instability. Zopiclone (Imovane), due to its short half-life associated with rapid hypnotic activity, is considered as a compound of choice to sedate victims. In these situations, blood or even urine can be of poor interest. In the first one, zopiclone tested positive in the corresponding hair segment at 4.2 pg/mg, in accordance with a single exposure to the drug. The use of a drug to modify a person's behaviour for criminal gain is not a recent phenomenon. To document the detection of zopiclone in hair, we first tested specimens obtained from two volunteers who had ingested a single 7.5 mg Imovane tablet, and from repetitive consumers of zopiclone. This is the reason why this laboratory developed an original approach based on hair testing by LC-MS/MS. Hair from repetitive consumers tested positive for zopiclone at concentrations of 37 and 66 pg/mg. However, the recent increase in reports of drug-facilitated crimes (sexual assault, robbery) has caused alarm in the general public. A single exposure to zopiclone was detectable in the first hair segment of two volunteers at concentration of 5.4 and 9.0 pg/mg, respectively. They possess amnesic properties and can be quickly cleared from the body fluids. In the other expertise, zopiclone was detected in the two segments analyzed, at 21.3 and 21.5 pg/mg, making unlikely the hypothetical single exposure to zopiclone. Zopiclone and diazepam-d5, used as internal standard, were detected by tandem mass spectrometry. After pH 8.4 buffer incubation and extraction with methylene chloride/diethyl ether (80/20 (v/v)), hair extracts were separated on a Xterra MS C18 column using a gradient of acetonitrile and formate buffer. Hair analysis was applied to two authentic criminal cases.
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