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Identification of the 'wrong' active pharmaceutical ingredient in a counterfeit Halfan drug product using accurate mass electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry, accurate mass tandem mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry

Wolff, J-Claude.; Thomson, L.A.; Eckers, C.

Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry: Rcm 17(3): 215-221

2003


ISSN/ISBN: 0951-4198
PMID: 12539187
DOI: 10.1002/rcm.893
Accession: 046317515

Methodology is presented for identifying an unknown active (pharmaceutical) ingredient (AI) in a counterfeit drug product. A range of mass spectrometric techniques, i.e., accurate mass mass spectrometry, tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), has been employed to determine the AI in a counterfeit Halfan suspension, an antimalarial drug. In particular, use of LockSpray accurate mass MS/MS allowed identification of parts of the molecule from fragments, hence limiting the number of possible elemental compositions for the nominal mass of 278 found for the AI in the counterfeit product. The analysis of the isotope pattern observed for the protonated molecule further reduced the number of possible elemental compositions. A literature search for readily commercially available compounds of molecular formula C(12)H(14)N(4)O(2)S suggested that the AI was either sulfamethazine or sulfisomidine. An LC/MS separation of those two compounds and reference MS/MS spectra obtained for sulfamethazine and sulfisomidine led to the conclusion that the AI in the counterfeit Halfan suspension is sulfamethazine, which is an antibacterial agent.

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