A novel method for the rapid screening of clandestine tablets for drugs by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry is described. In this method, cetrimonium bromide (CTAB), a surfactant, is added to the conventional α-cyano-4- hydroxycinnamic acid (CHCA) matrix solution used in preparing the MALDI samples. This procedure allows very clean mass spectra to be collected for amphetamine, methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), caffeine, ketamine and tramadol. The method was used successfully in the rapid drug-screening of some actual clandestine tablets, which had been seized from the illicit market, and can serve as a good complementary method to GC/MS for use in forensic analysis.
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