Urinary screening for alprazolam and its major metabolites by the Abbott ADx and TDx analyzers with confirmation by GC/MS

J Anal Toxicol. Jan-Feb 1991;15(1):25-9. doi: 10.1093/jat/15.1.25.


Alprazolam is a short-acting triazolobenzodiazepine with anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. It has a half-life of 10-15 hours after multiple oral doses. Approximately 20% of an oral dose is excreted unchanged in the urine. The major urinary metabolites are alpha-OH alprazolam glucuronide and 3-HMB benzophenone glucuronide. The objective of this study was to characterize the reactivity of alprazolam and three metabolites in the Abbott ADx and TDx urinary benzodiazepine assays compared with the EMIT d.a.u. benzodiazepine assay. Alprazolam (at 300 ng/mL) gave an equivalent response as the 300 ng/mL low control (nordiazepam). alpha-OH alprazolam gave an equivalent response to this control between 300-500 ng/mL and 4-OH alprazolam between 500-1000 ng/mL. The 3-HMB benzophenone was not positive even at 10,000 ng/mL. The ADx screening assay was positive in 26 of 31 urine specimens collected from alprazolam-treated patients. All 31 of these specimens were confirmed positive for alpha-OH alprazolam by GC/MS after enzymatic hydrolysis and formation of a TMS derivative. For the TDx, 27 of 31 specimens were positive for benzodiazepines and all 31 were confirmed by GC/MS. All 5 of the negative ADx specimens and 4 of 5 TDx specimens contained 150-400 ng/mL of alpha-OH alprazolam. In conclusion, both the ADx and TDx urine benzodiazepine assays are acceptable screening assays for alprazolam use when the alpha-OH alprazolam concentration is greater than 400 ng/mL.

MeSH terms

  • Alprazolam / urine*
  • Autoanalysis / instrumentation
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Molecular Structure


  • Alprazolam