AH-7921 (3,4-dichloro-N-[(1-dimethylamino)cyclohexylmethyl]benzamide) is a designer opioid with ∼80% of morphine's µ-agonist activity. Over a 6-month period, we encountered nine deaths where AH-7921 was involved and detected in blood from the deceased. Shortly after the last death, on August 1 2013, AH-7921 was scheduled as a narcotic and largely disappeared from the illicit market in Sweden. AH-7921 was measured by a selective liquid chromatography-MS-MS method and the concentrations of AH-7921 ranged from 0.03 to 0.99 µg/g blood. Six of our cases had other drugs of abuse on board and most had other medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants and analgesics. However, the other medicinal drugs encountered were present in postmortem therapeutic concentrations and unlikely to have contributed to death. In addition to the parent compound, we identified six possible metabolites where two N-demethylated dominated and four mono-hydroxylated were found in trace amounts in the blood. In conclusion, deaths with AH-7921 seem to occur both at low and high concentrations, probably a result of different tolerance to the drug. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that no sharp dividing line exists between lethal and non-lethal concentrations. Further, poly-drug use did not seem to be a major contributing factor for the fatal outcome.
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