Using a portable ion mobility spectrometer to screen dietary supplements for sibutramine

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 Feb 20;54(3):469-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2010.09.017. Epub 2010 Sep 19.


In response to recent incidents of undeclared sibutramine, an appetite suppressant found in dietary supplements, we developed a method to detect sibutramine using hand-held ion mobility spectrometers with an analysis time of 15 s. Ion mobility spectrometry is a high-throughput and sensitive technique that has been used for illicit drug, explosive, volatile organic compound and chemical warfare detection. We evaluated a hand-held ion mobility spectrometer as a tool for the analysis of supplement extracts containing sibutramine. The overall instrumental limit of detection of five portable ion mobility spectrometers was 2 ng of sibutramine HCl. When sample extractions containing 30 ng/μl or greater of sibutramine were analyzed, saturation of the ionization chamber of the spectrometer occurred and the instrument required more than three cleaning cycles to remove the drug. Hence, supplement samples suspected of containing sibutramine should be prepared at concentrations of 2-20 ng/μl. To obtain this target concentration range for products containing unknown amounts of sibutramine, we provided a simple sample preparation procedure, allowing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or other agencies to screen products using the portable ion mobility spectrometer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Depressants / analysis*
  • Caffeine / analysis
  • Counterfeit Drugs / adverse effects
  • Counterfeit Drugs / analysis
  • Cyclobutanes / analysis*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Ions / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spectrum Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Vitamin B 6 / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Appetite Depressants
  • Counterfeit Drugs
  • Cyclobutanes
  • Ions
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin B 6
  • sibutramine