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Recommended Methods for The Identification and Analysis of Fentanyl and Its Analogues in Biological Specimens

Manual for Use by National Drug Analysis Laboratories

image of Recommended Methods for The Identification and Analysis of Fentanyl and Its Analogues in Biological Specimens

The present manual is one in a series of similar publications by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), dealing with the identification and analysis of various types of drugs under international control. In line with the overall objective of this series of UNODC publications, the present manual suggests approaches that may assist drug analysts in the selection of methods appropraiate to the sample under examination and provide data suitable for the purpose at hand, leaving room also for adaptation to the level of sophistication of different laboratories and the various legal need.

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Introduction

The Belgian pharmacologist and pharmaceutical chemist Paul Janssen developed fentanyl in 1960. It was at the time a revolutionary compound with a potency much greater than that of the natural opioid morphine, and a significantly greater safety margin than other pharmaceutical synthetic opioids such as dextromoramide, meperidine and phenoperidine. Under Janssen’s leadership, a deeper understanding of the structure/activity relationships led to the development of the very potent analgesics sufentanil, alfentanil, lofentanil and carfentanil, which could also be used for anaesthesia. These drugs have been successfully used clinically for over fifty years, and have made possible complex surgeries and the successful management of chronic pain for millions of patients worldwide. Fentanyl, together with codeine, methadone and morphine are four opioid analgesics on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List of Essential Medicines.

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