Journal Article

Determination of Phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole Enantiomers (Levamisole/Dexamisole) in Illicit Cocaine Seizures and in the Urine of Cocaine Abusers via Chiral Capillary Gas Chromatography–Flame-Ionization Detection: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives

John F. Casale, Valerie L. Colley and Donald F. LeGatt

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 36, issue 2, pages 130-135
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/bkr025
Determination of Phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole Enantiomers (Levamisole/Dexamisole) in Illicit Cocaine Seizures and in the Urine of Cocaine Abusers via Chiral Capillary Gas Chromatography–Flame-Ionization Detection: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives

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Illicit cocaine laboratories in South America have been adding phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole enantiomers (levamisole and/or tetramisole) to refined illicit cocaine for over 8 years. A chiral capillary gas chromatographic methodology is presented for phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole enantiomer determination in illicit cocaine samples and in the urine of cocaine abusers. Illicit cocaine samples (N = 752) and urine specimens from cocaine abusers (N = 50) that contained phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole were analyzed for enantiomeric composition. Legitimate commercial preparations of phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole are either 100% levamisole or a 50:50 mixture of levamisole and dexamisole (tetramisole). Specimens that contain phenyltetrahydroimidazothiazole mixtures that are other than 50:50 preparations will be enhanced in one isomer over the other, and they are referred to as either “levamisole-enhanced” or “dexamisole-enhanced”. Cocaine samples were found to contain levamisole (N = 495, 66%), tetramisole (N = 143, 19%), and levamisole-enhanced enrichment (N = 114, 15%); urine specimens contained levamisole (N = 23, 46%), levamisole-enhanced enrichment (N = 10, 20%), and dexamisole-enhanced enrichment (N = 13, 26%). The toxicological and forensic aspects of these findings are discussed.

Journal Article.  2700 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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