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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • controlled substances;
  • alprazolam;
  • direct analysis in real time;
  • confirmation;
  • counterfeit

Abstract:  The high prevalence of alprazolam abuse translates to an increased workload for crime laboratories in characterizing seized tablets. These tablets may originate as diverted pharmaceuticals or counterfeited mimics, so efficient analytical techniques should provide confirmatory data while minimizing destruction of evidence. We offer the first report of a validated forensic method for confirming alprazolam tablets by direct analysis in real time–time of flight (DART-TOF) mass spectrometric analysis. This technique provides rapid identification of target analytes with minimal sample preparation, allowing direct analysis in the atmospheric sample gap. Selectivity is achieved through high resolution and mass accuracy, unique ion fragments, and chlorine isotopic ratios. This method utilizes fragmentation in two separate voltage functions to observe the alprazolam pseudo molecular ion at 309.09070 using 40 V and major ion fragments of 281.07197 and 205.07657 at 120 V. These parameters allow our laboratory to confirm alprazolam tablets efficiently, without compromising quality forensic standards.