Pharmacokinetics of cocaine and metabolites in human oral fluid and correlation with plasma concentrations after controlled administration

Karl Scheidweiler, Erin Kolbrich-Spargo, Tamsin Kelly, Edward Cone, Allan Barnes, Marilyn Huestis

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Oral fluid is an attractive alternative matrix for drug testing with a noninvasive and directly observed collection, but there are few controlled cocaine administration studies to guide interpretation. Materials and Methods: While residing on a closed research unit for up to 10 weeks under constant medical supervision, 19 participants were administered 75 mg/70 kg subcutaneous cocaine and 14 received 150 mg/70 kg. The disposition of cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BE), and ecgonine methyl ester (EME) into oral fluid was determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for 0.08 to 48 hours after administration. Results: In oral fluid collected by citric acid candy-stimulated expectoration, cocaine first appeared in oral fluid 0.08 to 0.32 hours after dosing and was rapidly eliminated with half-lives of 1.1 to 3.8 hours. BE and EME were first detected 0.08 to 1.0 hours after dosing with longer half-lives of 3.4 to 13.8 (BE) and 2.4 to 15.5 hours (EME) (P < 0.05). Oral fluid and plasma concentrations were significantly correlated for cocaine, BE, and EME (P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) in first and last detection times with the 8-μg/L cutoff proposed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or the 10-μg/L cutoff from the European initiative, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines. Metabolite:cocaine ratios increased after cocaine administration, potentially helpful for interpreting time of last use. Comparison of oral fluid collection through citric acid candy-stimulated expectoration, citric acid-treated Salivette, and neutral cotton Salivette devices did not reveal significant differences between devices for areas under the curve for cocaine, BE, or EME (P > 0.05). Discussion and Conclusion: These results provide additional evidence for interpreting cocaine and metabolite concentrations in oral fluid and oral fluid's usefulness as an alternative matrix for drug testing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-637
Number of pages10
JournalTherapeutic Drug Monitoring
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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