(Received 16 November 1991; accepted 14 January 1992)
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Many cocaine base (crack) exhibits contain traces of sodium bicarbonate. Pseudoecgonine methyl ester and ecgonine methyl ester are formed as artifacts from the effect of sodium bicarbonate and methanol in the injection port of a gas chromatograph. Formation of ecgonine methyl esters was confirmed by comparison to known standards via gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The mechanisms for artifact formation are hydrolysis of cocaine, followed by esterification and trans-esterification/base catalyzed epimerization.
Senior Research Chemist, Drug Chemistry Laboratory, State Bureau of Investigation, Raleigh, NC
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