QUESTION: cocaine

question / pregunta: 

what can you do to analyse the ingredients and percentage of what is inside the cocaine that you get from you dealer?


A survey of some of the articles which can be found through the PubMed database suggests that, without sophisticated knowledge of chemical analysis and equipment, you really can not get an accurate analysis of drug ingredients found on the illicit market.

An article from the Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2005 Nov;50(6):1342-60, descibes "Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) methods for determining the purity of reference drug standards and illicit forensic drug seizures." Another article, from the Archiv fur Kriminolgie, 1996 Jan-Feb;197(1-2):16-26, discusses using "liquid chromatography and photodiode array detection." Another article describes the "gas chromatographic signature" of illicit samples (Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2007 Jul;52(4):860-6). You can obtain these articles through an academic library - a reference librarian can help you find them using the citations provided. The articles will provide discussions of how these procedures can be carried out, and the citations at the end of the articles should provide further resources.

These and other articles found in the database discuss the results of such analysis. Since this was not your question, I will only cite the title of one additional article, from the Journal of Emergency Nursing, 2008 Feb;34(1):80-2: "Luck of the draw: common adulterants found in illicit drugs." This gives a sense of how much you, or for that matter "your dealer," typically knows about the ingredients of illicit drugs.

Answer posted by:
jim miller

If you want to pursue this even further, to get VERY detailed information that is free on the web, there are a number of patent databases that will go into detail on these analysis techniques and devices. By far the biggest one, with more than 70 million records representing over 30 million full text patents from 72 nations, is the European Patent Office's Espacenet. In its advanced search, the title/abstract words: cocaine analysis get 9 hits. Number 8 is a German patent: DE4037686 from 1991-05-16, English title: "Quantitative determn. of cocaine and its main metabolites - by thin layer chromatography followed by conversion to a fluorescing prod. by heating" The "Patent Family" and "Legal Status" tabs don't link to English language equivalent patents. But if you copy/paste the Classification numbers into the advanced search page, and limit to "publication no." us, you can limit to US patents.

For example, the European (ECLA) class C07D451/12 and number us gets 56 hits. ECLA number G01N30/90 gets 86 US patents, which seem a bit closer to this topic. Espacenet uses pdf files, and it's much easier to display and print full text from it than from our own US database, which requires a special TIFF viewer such as AlternaTIFF, to see any drawings or ANY pre-1976 scanned full text. But there's an important tradeoff that may induce you to install that viewer: USPTO searches the entire text of all 1976 and later patents, not just abstracts and titles; and this is word-processed text - not pdf searching as in Google Patents. USPTO gets 2742 hits for: cocaine and analysis; 15 hits even when you limit that search to the "Claims" - aclm/cocaine and aclm/analysis. "Claims" are the legal statements that spell out precisely what the inventor is claiming protection for.

You can also use subject classification searching in the USPTO database. For example, one of the 15 hits on aclm/cocaine and aclm/analysis is 4,718,268. Jan 12, 1988. "Method and apparatus for detecting a contraband substance", which is in current US Class 73/19.01. The search" ccl/73/19.01 and cocaine gets only that very same patent, but ccl/73/19.01 gets 143 patents, some of which might be related (if a different word than cocaine was used to describe the drug being analyzed). But in the separate database of Pre-grant applications, the search ccl/73/19.01 and cocaine gets another hit - Publication number 20030033851, February 20, 2003. "Method and apparatus for detection of illegal substances in commerce"

There is much more to be said about patent searching, but this should give you a sense of what is out there - freely available to the ambitious researcher. It is certainly quite OK to use Google Patents as a very fast search, display, and print/download. But be aware that it is not as current as the USPTO database, and more importantly - its Classification search is not yet reliable. Compare some other free services, such as FreePatentsOnline, which offer very sophisticated as well as rapid searching and print/download.

Jim Miller
[email protected]
(College Park Patent & Trademark Depository Library representative)