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Prevalence of Novel Psychoactive Substances in Oral Fluid, Final Research Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2021
14 pages

This final report summarizes a research project that sought to develop analytical methods necessary to complete novel synthetic opioid testing and analyze oral fluid samples.


This document reports on a research project that had three major goals: to develop and validate a comprehensive analytical method for the detection and qualification of novel synthetic opioids in oral fluid, such as saliva, through the use of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS); to collect anonymous oral fluid specimens from prisoners, arrestees, drivers under the influence of drugs (DUID), and other forensic settings in order to detect and quantify novel synthetic opioids using validated LC-MS/MS method; and to examine the prevalence of novel synthetic opioids in susceptible populations in order to understand the extent of synthetic opioid abuse. The five main research questions were: if LC-MS/MS could be used to analyze novel synthetic opioids; if solid phase extraction (SPE) would be suitable for isolation of novel synthetic opioids from oral fluid; if oral fluid could be a useful alternative matrix for identifying the use of novel synthetic opioids; what the prevalence of novel synthetic opioid use in sensitive populations is; and if oral fluid drug testing could be useful in investigating drug impairment. Originally, the project sought to analyze the novel synthetic as well as traditional opioids: AH-7921; MT-45; U-47700; W-18; morphine; 6-monoacetylmorphine; and buprenorphine. As drug trends shifted, the project sought to incorporate several other novel synthetic opioids that were both fentanyl- and non-fentanyl related. Results discussed provide details about the outcomes of the three research methods employed, oral fluid and drug recognition expert observations, and novel synthetic opioid prevalence detection.

Date Published: December 1, 2021