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IUPAC name
3-Benzoyloxy-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1]octane-4-carboxylic acid
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.007.513
EC Number 208-263-5
Molar mass 289.33 g·mol−1
GHS pictograms The skull-and-crossbones pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word Danger
P264, P270, P301+310, P321, P330, P405, P501
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Benzoylecgonine is the main metabolite of cocaine.


Chemically, benzoylecgonine is the benzoate ester of ecgonine. It is a primary metabolite of cocaine.[1]


Benzoylecgonine is the compound tested for in most substantive cocaine urinalyses. It is the corresponding carboxylic acid of cocaine, its methyl ester. It is formed in the liver by the metabolism of cocaine, catalysed by carboxylesterases, and subsequently excreted in the urine. It can be found in the urine for considerably longer than the cocaine itself which is generally cleared out within 5 days.[citation needed]

Presence in drinking water[edit]

Benzoylecgonine is sometimes found in drinking water supplies. In 2005, scientists found surprisingly large quantities of benzoylecgonine in Italy's Po River and used its concentration to estimate the number of cocaine users in the region.[2] In 2006, a similar study was performed in the Swiss ski town of Saint-Moritz using waste water to estimate the daily cocaine consumption of the population.[3] A study done in the United Kingdom found traces of benzoylecgonine in the country's drinking water supply, along with carbamazepine (an anticonvulsant) and ibuprofen (a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), although the study noted that the amount of each compound present was several orders of magnitude lower than the therapeutic dose and therefore did not pose a risk to the population.[4]

Preliminary studies on ecological systems show that benzoylecgonine has potential toxicity issues.[5] Research is being conducted on degradation options such as advanced oxidation and photocatalysis[6] for this metabolite in an effort to reduce concentrations in waste and surface waters. At environmentally relevant concentrations, benzoylecgonine has been shown to have a negative ecological impact.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schindler, Charles W; Goldberg, Steven R (2012). "Accelerating cocaine metabolism as an approach to the treatment of cocaine abuse and toxicity". Future Medicinal Chemistry. 4 (2): 163–75. doi:10.4155/fmc.11.181. PMC 3293209. PMID 22300096.
  2. ^ "Italian river 'full of cocaine'". BBC News. 5 August 2005. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Tant de coke ? Stupéfiant !". Courrier International (in French). 2 February 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  4. ^ Withnall, Adam (11 May 2014). "Cocaine use in Britain so high it has contaminated our drinking water, report shows". The Independent. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b Binelli, A.; Marisa, I; Fedorova, M; Hoffmann, R; Riva, C (2013). "First evidence of protein profile alteration due to the main cocaine metabolite (benzoylecgonine) in a freshwater model". Aquatic Toxicology. 140–141: 268–278. doi:10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.06.013. PMID 23838174.
  6. ^ Postigo, C.; Sirtori, C.; Oller, I.; Malato, S.; Maldonado, M.I.; Lopez de Alda, M.; Barcelo, D. (2011). "Solar transformation and photocatalytic treatment of cocaine in water: kinetics, characterization of major intermediate products and toxicity evaluation". Applied Catalysis B: Environmental. 104: 37–48. doi:10.1016/j.apcatb.2011.02.030.