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Identifying the composition of street drug <i>Nyaope</i> using two different mass spectrometer methods

Aye A. Khine
Kebogile E. Mokwena
Mempedi Huma
Lucy Fernandes


Criminalization of trading and using of street drug Nyaope has had challenges in South Africa due to controversies about its composition. The high cost and complexity of its analysis using conventional chromatography methods also limit the testing availability in most routine laboratories. A state of the Art method with simple specimen processing and faster turnaround time at an affordable cost is urgently needed. To compare the ability of a new Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry with direct sample analysis (TOF-DSA MS) and Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) methods in detecting the constituents of Nyaope against turnaround time and cost, in order to recommend a better system for routine use. Cross-sectional, qualitative and descriptive pilot study on samples purchased from various sources of 12 townships in Northern Gauteng Province. The constituents consistently detected in all samples were caffeine, drugs of abuse such as opiates, codeine, morphine, methyl-dioxy amphetamine (MDA) and heroin. Some samples contained antibiotics (citroflex) and antiretroviral drugs (zidovudine). Central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as phenobarbitone and benzodiazepines, benzitramide, moramide intermediates and thiofentanyl and stimulants such as Pipradol, and fenethyline were detected by the TOF-MS system. The usefulness of TOF-DSA MS was better as a screening method while GC-MS provides specificity and confirmatory detection. Due to direct sample analysis, the TOF-DSA provides analytical runtime of 15 sec while GC-MS takes 10 minutes per sample. The running cost for the GCMS is more expensive due to the high cost of reference materials and the need to perform specimen preparation as opposed to TOF-MS. We recommend TOF DSA MS for initial screening of organic compounds in the Nyaope mixtures followed by confirmation by GC-MS for medico-legal interventions.

Keywords: Nyaope, drug of abuse, Mass Spectrometry, Gas Chromatography, Antiretrovirals

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eISSN: 1531-4065
print ISSN: 1531-4065