Ion mobility spectrometry for the rapid analysis of over-the-counter drugs and beverages

Original Research


In the pharmaceutical industry, there are increasing requirements for analytical methods in quality assessment for the production of drugs. In this investigation, ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) was used for the rapid qualitative separation and identification of active ingredients in generic over-the-counter drugs and food additives in beverages. The active ingredients determined in drugs were acetaminophen, aspartame, bisacodyl, caffeine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, famotidine, glucosamine, guaifenesin, loratadine, niacin, phenylephrine, pyridoxine, thiamin, and tetrahydrozoline. Aspartame and caffeine were determined in beverages. Fourteen over-the-counter drugs and beverages were analyzed. Analysis times below 10 s were obtained for IMS, and reduced mobilities were reported for the first time for 12 compounds. A quadrupole mass spectrometer coupled to a mobility spectrometer was used to assure a correct peak assignation. The combination of fast analysis, low cost, and inexpensive maintenance of IMS instruments makes IMS an attractive technique for the qualitative determination of the active ingredients in over-the-counter drugs and food additives in manufacture quality control and cleaning verification for the drug and food industries.


Ion mobility spectrometry Over-the-counter drug Food additive Sweetener 



This work was supported by NIH grant R33DK0702740351. The authors thank the Graduate professional Writing Center in WSU for proofreading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Fernández-Maestre
    • 1
  • Herbert H. HillJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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