Volume 38, Issue 4 (July 1993)
Improved Long-Term Stability of Blood Cocaine in Evacuated Collection Tubes
A study was undertaken to determine if a relatively minor modification of our existing specimen collection tubes could enhance the long-term stability of blood cocaine. We added cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BE) and ethanol to whole sheep blood in glass tubes that were prepared to contain one of several combinations of preservatives and anticoagulant.
On day 1 and at intervals of up to one year, the drugs were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (cocaine and BE) or headspace gas chromatography (ethanol). Storage of blood containing 200 ng/mL cocaine at 4°C for one year resulted in 100% loss of the drug using our normal 10 mL specimen collection tubes containing 100 mg sodium fluoride and 20 mg potassium oxalate. The substitution of oxalic acid for potassium oxalate reduced this loss to 76% without any significant effect on the benzoylecgonine or ethanol concentrations. Further addition of 10 mg echothiophate iodide, a quaternary ammonium compound, brought the cocaine loss down to 60% of the original concentration by one year. Further work will be required to determine if oxalic acid and/or echothiophate iodide could be used in blood collection vials intended for forensic toxicological purposes without any detrimental effect on other assays.