Ultrafast screening of synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones in urine by rapidfire-tandem mass spectrometry

Jillian R. Neifeld, Laura E. Regester, Justin M. Holler, Shawn P. Vorce, Joseph Magluilo, Gerardo Ramos, Thomas Z. Bosy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Screening for emerging drugs of abuse, specifically synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids, is difficult for high-throughput laboratories as immunoassay kits are often unavailable. Consequently, most laboratories employ liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC- MS-MS) screening, which can be complex and time consuming as these techniques may require involved sample preparation and lengthy analysis times. The increasing demand for novel psychoactive substance testing necessitates alternative screening methods that are sensitive, fast and versatile. The RapidFire tandem mass spectrometry system (RF-MS-MS) provides a rapid and highly specific screen for these emerging drugs of abuse with minimal sample preparation and an instrumental analysis time of <14 s per sample. Presented here are two RF-MS-MS screening methods used to analyze 28 emerging drugs of abuse, 14 synthetic cannabinoids and 14 synthetic cathinones, in urine with run times of 9 and 12.6 s, respectively. Sample preparation and hydrolysis were performed in a 96-well plate with one multiple reaction monitoring transition used for the identification of each compound. Eighteen thousand urine specimens were screened by liquid-liquid extraction followed by LC-MS-MS analysis, and the results were compared with those obtained using the RF-MSMS screening method. The analytical data illustrate the advantages of the RF-MS-MS methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbkw025
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Analytical Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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