A comparison of the validity of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis of urine samples for morphine, codeine, 6-acetylmorphine, and benzoylecgonine
On November 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted a final notice in the Federal Register authorizing the use of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) and other technologies in federally regulated workplace drug testing (WPDT) programs. These rules are expected to become effective in May 2010. To support this change, it is essential to explicitly demonstrate that LC-MS-MS as a technology can produce results at least as valid as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), the long-accepted standard in confirmatory analytical technologies for drugs of abuse and currently the only confirmatory method allowed for use in support of federally regulated WPDT programs. A series of manufactured control urine samples (n = 10 for each analyte) containing benzoylecgonine, morphine, codeine, and 6-acetylmorphine at concentrations ranging from 10% to 2000% of federal cutoffs were analyzed with replication by five federally regulated laboratories using GC-MS (five replicate analyses per lab) and at RTI International using LC-MS-MS (10 replicate analyses). Interference samples as described in the National Laboratory Certification Program 2009 Manual were also analyzed by both GC-MS and LC-MS-MS. In addition, matrix effects were assessed for LC-MS-MS, and both analytical technologies were used to analyze previously confirmed urine specimens of WPDT origin. Results indicated that LC-MS-MS analysis produced results at least as precise, accurate, and specific as GC-MS for the analytes investigated in this study. Matrix effects, while evident, could be controlled by the use of matrix-matched controls and calibrators with deuterated internal standards. LC-MS-MS data parameters, such as retention time and product ion ratios, were highly reproducible.