Surveillance of drug abuse in Hong Kong by hair analysis using LC‐MS/MS

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Dec 18, 2017
  • Author: K. Wing Leung, Zack C.F. Wong, Janet Y.M. Ho, Ada W.S. Yip, Jerry K.H. Cheung, Karen K.L. Ho, Ran Duan, Karl W.K. Tsim
  • Journal: Drug Testing and Analysis


The aim of this study is to reveal the habits of drug abusers in hair samples from drug rehabilitation units in Hong Kong. With the application of liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) technology, a total of 1771 hair samples were analyzed during the period of hair testing service (January 2012 to March 2016) provided to 14 drug rehabilitation units including non‐governmental organizations (NGOs), rehabilitation centers, and medical clinics. Hair samples were analyzed for abused drugs and their metabolites simultaneously, including ketamine, norketamine, cocaine, benzoylecgonine, cocaethylene, norcocaine, codeine, MDMA, MDA, MDEA, amphetamine, methamphetamine, morphine, 6‐acetylmorphine, phencyclidine, and methadone. The results showed that ketamine (77.2%), cocaine (21.3%), and methamphetamine (16.5%) were the frequently detected drugs among those drug abusers, which is consistent with the reported data. In addition, the usage of multiple drugs was also observed in the hair samples. About 29% of drug‐positive samples were detected with multiple drug use. Our studies prove that our locally developed hair drug‐testing method and service can be a valid tool to monitor the use of abused drugs, and which could facilitate rehabilitation program management.

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