Oxycontin: the concept of a "ghost pill" and the postmortem
tissue distribution of oxycodone in 36 cases

Anderson DT, Fritz KL, Muto JJ.
Los Angeles County Department of Coroner,
California 90033, USA.
J Anal Toxicol 2002 Oct;26(7):448-59


Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that is structurally similar to codeine and equipotent to morphine in producing analgesic effects. Oxycodone has been prescribed in many immediate-release formulations including Percodan, Percocet, Tylox, Roxicodone, and Toxicet. In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved Oxycontin, a controlled-release form of oxycodone. Although the immediate-release forms of oxycodone can be prescribed in doses of 10-30 mg every 4 h, it is recommended that Oxycontin be prescribed in doses of 10-160 mg every 12 h. In a six-year period, the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner's Toxicology Laboratory detected oxycodone in 67 cases, 36 of which were determined to be the controlled-release form. The objectives of this paper are to provide general information about Oxycontin, including postmortem tissue distributions of oxycodone in cases in which the controlled-release form was identified, and to introduce the concept of ghost pills. A ghost pill is a seemingly intact but drug-free tablet that resembles an undigested pill. The isolation and identification of oxycodone from postmortem specimens was achieved using a basic, liquid-liquid extraction with screening and quantitation by gas chromatography-nitrogen-phosphorus detection and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, respectively. Oxycodone-d3 was used as an internal standard for quantitation. The assays were linear from 0.10 to 5.0 mg/L. The tissue distribution ranges of oxycodone in the 36 case examples were heart blood 0.12-46 mg/L (36), femoral blood + < 0.10-13 mg/L (35), liver 0.11-6.1 mg/kg (16), urine 2.5-122 mg/L (22), bile 0.19-49 mg/L (15), vitreous 0.24-0.82 mg/L (6), and gastric 0.06-119 mg total (21).
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OxyCon Game
Opiated worms
Zero tolerance?
Oxytrex (PTI-801)
Long-term oxycodone
Oxycodone: metabolism
Oxycodone plus sertraline
Morphine versus oxycodone
Tramadol versus oxycodone
OxyContin: politics and science
OxyContin: prescribing indications
Oxycodone: controlled- v immediate-release
Oxycodone (Percodan, Oxycontin) : structure

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