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Labay L.M.,Grove Labs | Caruso J.L.,City and County of Denver | Gilson T.P.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Phipps R.J.,Office of the Chief Medical Examiner | And 7 more authors.
Forensic Science International | Year: 2016

Adverse effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid use include agitation, psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular effects, all which may result in a lethal outcome. We report the collection of data from 25 medical examiner and coroner cases where the presence of synthetic cannabinoids was analytically determined. Participating offices provided case history, investigative and relevant autopsy findings and toxicology results along with the cause and manner of death determination. This information, with the agency and cause and manner of death determinations blinded, was sent to participants. Participants offered their opinions regarding the likely contribution of the toxicology findings to cause and manner of death. The results show that some deaths are being attributed to synthetic cannabinoids, with the highest risk areas being behavioral toxicity resulting in excited delirium, trauma or accidents and as contributing factors in subjects with pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease. While insufficient information exists to correlate blood synthetic cannabinoid concentrations to effect, in the absence of other reasonable causes, the drugs should be considered as a cause or contributory cause of death based on history and circumstances with supporting toxicological data. © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Wyman J.F.,Franklin County Coroners Office | Wyman J.F.,Ohio State University | Wyman J.F.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Dean D.E.,Ohio State University | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2011

Drug levels in decomposed individuals are difficult to interpret. Concentrations of 16 drugs were monitored in tissues (blood, brain, liver, kidney, muscle, and soil) from decomposing pigs for 1week. Pigs were divided into groups (n=5) with each group receiving four drugs. Drug cocktails were prepared from pharmaceutical formulations. Intracardiac pentobarbital sacrificewas 4h after dosing, with tissue collection at 4, 24, 48, 96, and 168h postdosing. Samples were frozen until assay. Detection and quantitation of drugs were through solid phase extraction followed by gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer analysis. Brain and kidneys were not available after 48h; liver and muscle persisted for 1week. Concentration of drugs increased during decomposition. During 1week of decomposition, muscle showed average levels increasing but concentrations in liver were increased many fold, compared to muscle. Attempting to interpret drug levels in decomposed bodies may lead to incorrect conclusions about cause and manner of death. 2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the U.S.A.


Desrosiers N.A.,Laurentian University | Watterson J.H.,Laurentian University | Dean D.,Summit County Medical Examiners Office | Wyman J.F.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2012

Skeletal remains of a domestic pig were assessed for relative distribution of amitriptyline, citalopram, and metabolites. Following acute exposure and outdoor decomposition for 2years, drugs and metabolites were analyzed in 13 different bones. Bones were pulverized following a simple wash procedure, and drugs were extracted by passive incubation in methanol, followed by solid-phase extraction. Samples were analyzed by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) and confirmed with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The Kruskall-Wallis test showed that bone type was a main effect with respect to drug level for all analytes, with levels varying from 33- to 166-fold. Ratios of levels of drug to that of the corresponding metabolite were less variable, varying roughly one- to eightfold. This suggests limitations in the interpretive value of drug measurements in bone and that relative levels of drug and metabolites should be further investigated in terms of forensic value. © 2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Wyman J.F.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Lavins E.S.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Engelhart D.,Omega Laboratories Inc | Armstrong E.J.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Analytical Toxicology | Year: 2013

3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive, synthetic analog of the central nervous system stimulant cathinone. Its recent popularity as a recreational drug in the United States has led to numerous reports to poison control centers across the country. As with other synthetic cathinones, the recreational use of MDPV has resulted in death. MDPV is thought to exert its pharmacologic effects by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. This report describes the case of an exposure of a 39-year-old male to MDPV, which resulted in his death. Postmortem concentrations of MDPV in various tissues were measured. The detection of MDPV in tissues and fluids was accomplished using gas chromatographymass spectrometry analysis after solid-phase extraction. Blood analysis also demonstrated therapeutic levels of lamotrigine, fluoxetine, risperidone, benztropine, pseudoephedrine and ibuprofen. The detection of cathinones in hair was conducted using high-performance liquid chromatographytandem mass spectrometry after solid-phase extraction. MDPV was uniformly distributed among multiple tissues (blood, brain, muscle, cerebrospinal fluid and lung) at concentrations of approximately 0.4 to 0.6 μg/mL. Tissue and fluids responsible for detoxification/excretion had higher concentrations of MDPV (kidney, liver and bile >0.8 μg/mL). A blood concentration >0.4 μg/mL was judged sufficient to cause death. The cause of death was ruled MDPV intoxication resulting in cardiac arrhythmia.


Naso-Kaspar C.K.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Herndon G.W.,Cleveland Clinic | Wyman J.F.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | Felo J.A.,Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Analytical Toxicology | Year: 2013

'Lingering death' cases occur when the circumstances of death indicate an opiate overdose, but measured opiate blood levels are only in the therapeutic range; death results from cardiac and respiratory depression. This study examined the relative concentration of opiates in femoral blood and in the medulla oblongata (sites for cardiac and respiratory control) from 41 cases to determine whether a difference in opiate concentration might explain lingering deaths. Opiates from blood and medulla were analyzed using GC-EI-MS in selective ion monitoring mode. Results were correlated with gross and microscopic findings of the lungs and with cause and manner of death. Opiate concentrations for morphine, codeine and 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) were higher in the medulla than in blood. The brain: blood ratio for the analytes demonstrated an increasing ratio from morphine, to codeine, to 6-AM (1.42, 2.48 and 4.86), which corresponds to the relative lipophilicity of these analytes. The average right and left lung weights were 762 and 668 g, respectively. Histologic examination showed edema, and/or polarizable microemboli, acute bronchopneumonia and acute bronchitis. The preferential distribution of opiates to medulla suggests that lingering opiate deaths may be explained, at least in part, because of higher relative concentrations of drug in brain, compared with femoral blood © The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

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