Characterisation and profiling of ecstasy tablets

Rashed, Abdulhameed M. (2000) Characterisation and profiling of ecstasy tablets. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In addition to identifying the presence of a specific controlled drug in an exhibit and
measuring its concentration, forensic drug laboratories are requested in certain cases
or as a routine to provide additional information that may be helpful to the
investigation process. On the basis of their chemical and physical characteristics,
seized drugs may be profiled and linked to common sources or routes of
Chapter 1 is an introduction to the illicit drug production from cultivation to
manufacturing and trafficking. Chapter 2 describes the role of the drug chemist and
includes characterisation of seizures, that is identification, quantification, and
comparison of illicit drugs. Chapter 3 provides a literature review of the different
analytical methods used in the area of drug profiling.
This project has been on the subject of drug profiling with focus on the ringsubstituted
amphetamine, 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or
ecstasy as it is widely called. Among the main objectives of this study was the
development and optimisation of a new extraction procedure, solid phase extraction,
for impurities in seized ecstasy tablets. The instrumental analysis of impurities
found in ecstasy tablets usually require a preliminary process to extract, isolate, and
concentrate these impurities from the total tablet content. In the process, interfering
materials are removed, and the required substances are concentrated into a solvent
that is suitable for introduction into the instrument. Chapter 4 describes the
development of a solid phase extraction (SPE) procedure and also an evaluation of a
comparison procedure of liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) and SPE for extracting
impurities in ecstasy tablets for profiling purposes. Solid phase extraction of
impurities in ecstasy tablets proved to be more efficient than the traditional liquidliquid
extraction. SPE provided impurity peaks with higher intensities than did LLE
and a shorter extraction time.
Another area of research was the use of infrared technology as an additional tool for
profiling ecstasy tablets as seen in Chapter 5. Infrared method can serve as an
elimination or screening step for gross clustering or grouping of exhibits.
In chapter 6 the synthesis of MDMA using different synthetic routes to acquire
authentic samples of impurities which are usually present in street samples were
performed. These authentic samples were analysed and their mass spectra and
retention indices were used to identify impurities in actual street samples to
determine their route of synthesis. In chapter 7 ecstasy tablets confiscated within the
UK were analysed to establish their route(s) of synthesis using the data of the
authentic compounds synthesised earlier.
The main contributions of this project were:
1. Developing a solid phase extraction procedure as an alternative to the conventional
liquid-liquid extraction procedure. SPE provided extraction with no cross
contamination of phases and no emulsion problem, as with LLE, due to the presence
of fatty acids in ecstasy tablets.
2. Developing a simple and fast infrared method as a screening or elimination tool for
ecstasy profiling.
3. Study of the synthetic routes of ecstasy samples within the UK with the aid of route-specific
authentic impurity compounds synthesised in-house.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Dr. Robert A.
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Ms Anikó Szilágyi
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-6339
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 May 2015 10:51
Last Modified: 11 May 2015 10:56

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