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Evaluation of a lateral flow immunoassay for the detection of the synthetic opioid fentanyl



Edward Sisco, Daniel J. Angelini, Tracey D. Briggs, Michele N. Maughan, Michael G. Feasel, Jennifer W. Sekowski


In the United States in 2016, 64,000 overdose deaths were reported to be associated with the abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers (e.g. oxycodone), opiates (e.g. heroin), or synthetic opioids (e.g. fentanyl). The recent spike in the presence of synthetic opioids in lots of heroin distributed on the street present specific and significant challenges to law enforcement. Synthetic opioids are extremely toxic substances, which can easily be inhaled. This type of exposure can lead to accidental overdoses by law enforcement and other first responders answering calls involving illicit drugs containing these substances. Due to this extreme toxicity, it is important for these individuals to have tools that can be easily deployed for accurate presumptive field tests. Currently, there are only a limited number of presumptive tests available for fentanyl detection. In this study, we addressed this technology gap by evaluating newly developed lateral flow immunoassays (LFIs) designed for the detection of fentanyl and its derivatives. These LFIs were evaluated for effectiveness in different biofluid matrices, following an in vivo exposure, cross-reactivity with fentanyl analogs, and in case samples. This study demonstrates that LFIs have the potential to be used by law enforcement for the detection of synthetic opioids.
Forensic Science International


Detection, fentanyl, forensic science, illicit drug, lateral flow immunoassay, opioid


Sisco, E. , Angelini, D. , Briggs, T. , Maughan, M. , Feasel, M. and Sekowski, J. (2019), Evaluation of a lateral flow immunoassay for the detection of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, Forensic Science International, [online],, (Accessed April 13, 2024)
Created April 25, 2019, Updated June 24, 2021