An introduction to drug testing: the expanding role of mass spectrometry

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;902:1-13. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-934-1_1.


Measurement of drugs and their metabolites in biological fluids is the foundation of both therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) and toxicology. Though different in their application, each discipline depends upon accurate identification and quantification if the measurements are to be useful. Thousands of methods are described for drug analysis but until recently most have relied upon analytical tools, such as spectrophotometry and immunoassay, that suffer from lack of specificity and sensitivity. The introduction of methods based on mass spectrometry (MS), coupled to gas or liquid chromatography, has revolutionized these areas. The methods are proving to be robust, versatile, and economical. This chapter introduces the reader to the application of MS to TDM and toxicology, the steps that should be considered during implementation, and the processes that should be implemented to assure continued quality.

MeSH terms

  • Body Fluids / chemistry
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Drug Monitoring / instrumentation
  • Drug Monitoring / methods*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Mass Spectrometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / analysis*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Quality Control


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations