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Post-mortem redistribution of psychoactive medicinal drugs

Forensic Expertise Area: Forensic toxicology

Psychoactive medicinal drugs (PMD)
Psychoactive medicinal drugs (PMD)


Psychoactive medicinal drugs (PMD) are common medical treatments in the world. Moreover, these substances are commonly related to violent causes of death which need a forensic investigation. In those cases, toxicological studies are necessary and require to identify and to quantify these substances with laboratory techniques.
Quantitative results of PMD (antidepressant, antipsychotic, benzodiazepines, Z-drugs, opioids…) concentrations in post-mortem peripheral blood samples are often influenced by post-mortem redistribution phenomena. The knowledge of the patterns of how different type of PMD are redistributed in a death body is basic to make an accurate interpretation of the results.
The objective of this thesis is to make a review of the literature about the published alterations in the different types of PMD due to post-mortem redistribution phenomena. This review could help the interpretation of these results by the forensic doctor.


  1. Site-, Technique-, and Time-Related Aspects of the Postmortem Redistribution of Diazepam, Methadone, Morphine, and their Metabolites: Interest of Popliteal Vein Blood Sampling Eric Lemaire; Carl Schmidt; Nathalie Dubois; Raphael Denooz; Corinne Charlier; and Philippe Boxho. J Forensic Sci, November 2017, Vol. 62, No. 6. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13404 
  2. Postmortem Drug Redistribution. Barnhart FE, Bonnell HJ, Rossum KM. Forensic Sci Rev. 2001 Jul;13(2):101-29. PMID: 26256305 
  3. Key concepts in postmortem drug redistribution Yarema MC, Becker CE.. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2005;43(4):235-41. PMID: 16035199 


Institute Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences Catalonia


Forensic toxicology
Supervisor :        Geli Gallego Herruzo 

UvA Co-assessor : 

Prof Roelof-Jan Oostra
UVA Coordinator Arian van Asten/Yorike Hartman