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Cocaine is metabolized by plasma and liver enzymes (cholinesterases) to water-soluble metabolites that are excreted in the urine. The two major metabolites are benzoylecognine and ecognine methyl ester, with only benzoylecognine reported to have behavioral activity. Since Cocaine has a relatively short half-life and may only be present in the urine for twenty-four to thirty-six hours, benzoylecognine levels in urine are useful markers of cocaine use, because it is present for a longer time in urine, two to four days, depending on the quantity of cocaine ingested. Assays for this metabolite are frequently employed in treatment programs, to evaluate compliance with the program, and in workplace drug testing to indicate cocaine use. Under these conditions, it is important to keep in mind that benzoylecognine in the urine is an indication of prior cocaine use, but reflects neither current use nor impairment.

(See also: Cocaethylene ; Drug Testing and Analysis )

Marian W. Fischman