High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS) for the analysis of date rape drugs

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science

First Advisor's Name

Kenneth G. Furton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jose R. Almirall

Third Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Date of Defense



The drugs studied in this work have been reportedly used to commit drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), commonly known as "date rape". Detection of the drugs was performed using high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection (HPLC/UV) and identified with high performance-liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS) using selected ion monitoring (SIM). The objective of this study was to develop a single HPLC method for the simultaneous detection, identification and quantitation of these drugs.

The following drugs were simultaneously analyzed: Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), scopolamine, lysergic acid diethylamide, ketamine, flunitrazepam, and diphenhydramine. The results showed increased sensitivity with electrospray (ES) ionization versus atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) using HPLC/MS. HPLC/ES/MS was approximately six times more sensitive than HPLC/APCI/MS and about fifty times more sensitive than HPLC/UV. A limit of detection (LOD) of 100 ppb was achieved for drug analysis using this method. The average linear regression coefficient of correlation squared (r2) was 0.933 for HPLC/UV and 0.998 for HPLC/ES/MS.

The detection limits achieved by this method allowed for the detection of drug dosages used in beverage tampering. This method can be used to screen beverages suspected of drug tampering.

The results of this study demonstrated that solid phase microextraction (SPME) did not improve sensitivity as an extraction technique when compared to direct injections of the drug standards.



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