Identification of the "legal high"phenylalkylamine analogues: 5-iodo-2 aminoindane (5-IAI) and 5, 6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane (MDAI) by colorimetric tests and GC-MS
Over the past decade, the illicit drug market has experienced an explosion of designer drugs being produced by clandestine laboratories that include modifications of illicit drugs that dominated drug markets for long periods of time (e.g. cathinones and MDMA). These designer drugs, which are commonly known as “legal highs”, are popular due to that fact that they are legally obtainable and not currently controlled. Examples of these include the phenylalkylamine analogues 5-iodo-2-aminoindane (5-IAI) and 5, 6-methylenedixoy-2-amonindane (MDAI), which have similar biological effects to MDMA. In spite of the unknown risk factors associated with these substances, it is believed that “legal highs” continue to have high levels of interest among recreational users. As such, the potential for abuse is high, and 5-IAI and MDAI are under consideration in numerous jurisdictions for regulation. Many of these novel compounds have never been analyzed previously within a forensic setting. The chemical and physical properties of 5-IAI and MDAI are not fully understood. As a result, the analytical analysis of “legal highs” can be challenging. Color test kits provide a quick screening method for law enforcement officials looking to presumptively identify a substance in the field. The difficulty with this form of analysis is that most of the active ingredients present in “legal highs” are not detected by standard presumptive tests, or the results when the tests are used are ambiguous. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is one of the most utilized analytical instruments in forensic laboratories for the identification of drugs of abuse. However, due to the rapid development and commercialization of “legal highs,” the limited availability of certified reference standards and mass spectral data make the confirmatory analysis of “legal highs” challenging. The primary aims of this research were two-fold. The first was to evaluate selected commercially available Narcotics Analysis Reagent Kits (NARK® II) and color reagent formulations recommended by the National Institute of Justice (Color Tests Reagents/ Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse) to determine if the phenylalkylamine analogues 5-IAI and MDAI generate a color development. If a color was generated using a particular reagent, further testing was conducted to establish if the observed color would be detectable in the presence of various adulterants. The second aim of this research was to develop a rapid GC-MS method for the detection of 5-IAI and MDAI in contrived multi-component mixtures of selected adulterants. Standard color tests provided consistent results for 5-IAI and MDAI pure samples as well as mixtures with adulterants. 5-IAI produced a light brown color with both the Marquis and the methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) color reagent tests. The Mandelin reagent from the NARK® II test kit produced a greenish brown color and a light green color with the In-House preparations of the same reagent when tested with MDAI. Confirmatory analysis was performed using GC-MS with a temperature gradient. The analysis was performed on a non- polar (5% phenyl) methylpolysiloxane column with a total run time of 10 minutes. 5-IAI and MDAI were chromatographically separated and distinguishable from various adulterants based on retention time and mass to charge ratio.