Purification of pharmaceutical preparations using thin-layer chromatography to obtain mass spectra with Direct Analysis in Real Time and accurate mass spectrometry

Authors: Robert R. Steiner, Jessica L. Wood
Drug Testing and Analysis 2011, Jun, 01, Volume 3, Issue 6, 345–351


Forensic analysis of pharmaceutical preparations requires a comparative analysis with a standard of the suspected drug in order to identify the active ingredient. Purchasing analytical standards can be expensive or unattainable from the drug manufacturers. Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART®™) is a novel, ambient ionization technique, typically coupled with a JEOL AccuTOF™ (accurate mass) mass spectrometer. While a fast and easy technique to perform, a drawback of using DART®™ is the lack of component separation of mixtures prior to ionization. Various in-house pharmaceutical preparations were purified using thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and mass spectra were subsequently obtained using the AccuTOF™- DART®™ technique. Utilizing TLC prior to sample introduction provides a simple, low-cost solution to acquiring mass spectra of the purified preparation. Each spectrum was compared against an in-house molecular formula list to confirm the accurate mass elemental compositions. Spectra of purified ingredients of known pharmaceuticals were added to an in-house library for use as comparators for casework samples. Resolving isomers from one another can be accomplished using collision-induced dissociation after ionization. Challenges arose when the pharmaceutical preparation required an optimized TLC solvent to achieve proper separation and purity of the standard. Purified spectra were obtained for 91 preparations and included in an in-house drug standard library. Primary standards would only need to be purchased when pharmaceutical preparations not previously encountered are submitted for comparative analysis. TLC prior to DART®™ analysis demonstrates a time efficient and cost saving technique for the forensic drug analysis community. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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