Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Development and Evaluation of a Synthetic Opioid Targeted Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) Method



Edward Sisco, Amber Burns, Arun Moorthy


A method for the targeted confirmation of synthetic opioids and related compounds was developed and evaluated. Using an 11-component test solution a method was developed that focused on maximizing chromatographic separation and understanding the influence of instrument parameters on reproducibility and sensitivity. Investigated setting included column type, flow rate, temperature program, inlet temperature, source temperature, and tune type. Using a DB-200 column a 35-minute temperature ramped method was created. It was evaluated against a suite of 222 synthetic opioids and related compounds and found to be able to differentiate all but 26 compound pairs based on retention time or mass spectra. Compared to a general confirmatory method the targeted method was up to 25 times more sensitivity and provided at least twice the chromatographic separation. Analysis of case extracts successfully demonstrated utility of the method and showed no instance of carryover though the high polarity column required wider retention time windows than other columns. Development of the targeted method is part of a larger effort to better understand the challenges and benefits of different analytical workflows in seized drug analysis.
Journal of Forensic Sciences


Opioids, GC-MS, Seized Drug, NPS, Method Development


Sisco, E. , Burns, A. and Moorthy, A. (2021), Development and Evaluation of a Synthetic Opioid Targeted Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) Method, Journal of Forensic Sciences, [online],, (Accessed February 22, 2024)
Created August 30, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022