Archiv fur Kriminologie

[Postmortem distribution of sertraline and desmethylsertraline in a fatality].

PMID 12365335


Sertraline (CAS 79617-96-2) is a relatively safe medication for patients suffering from depression. Data reporting the postmortal distribution of sertraline and desmethylsertraline remain rare as well as reports of risks of side effects following ingestion of the drug. In a case of a young woman found dead in her flat sertraline and desmethylsertraline were identified and quantified in body fluids and tissues by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection after alkaline extraction. Sertraline and its desmethyl metabolite were found in the peripheral blood in levels of 0.15 mg/l and 0.20 mg/l, concentrations in liver and bile were markedly higher. By exclusion of other reasons for death a lethal sertraline intoxication was decided. Sertraline is suggested to possess a low inherent toxicity, however, a risk of side-effects which may occur in single cases even under moderate dosages should be considered.