Friday, January 18, 2008

Accuracy of On-site Oral Fluid / Saliva Drug Testing

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

A comparison between instant and laboratory oral fluid analysis among arrestees.
Yacoubian GS; Wish ED.

Research studies that collect biological measures of drug use have traditionally utilized laboratory urinalysis.

Several recent studies have also documented the utility of laboratory oral fluid (OF) analysis.
A new method of drug testing -- instant OF technology -- may offer a quicker, equally accurate alternative to laboratory OF assays.

To date, however, no field studies have compared the two methods.

In the current study, an instant OF test (Avitar ORALscreen (TM)) was administered to adult arrestees surveyed through Maryland's Substance Abuse Need for Treatment among Arrestees (SANTA) study.

Following a research interview, a second OF sample was collected (Avitar ORALconfirm (TM)) and shipped to the manufacturer's laboratory for analysis.

The Avtiar ORALscreen instant OF test was -

96% sensitive and 83% specific for cocaine,

100% sensitive and 75% specific for opiates, and
100% sensitive and 94% specific for marijuana.

Copyright 2006, Haight-Ashbury Publishing

Reference Source: Yacoubian GS; Wish ED. A comparison between instant and laboratory oral fluid analysis among arrestees. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 38(2): 207-210, 2006. (10 refs.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Drugged Driving

Drivers is Australia who tested positive to drugs in roadside checks have had their results confirmed in a laboratory and will be charged.

Police had to wait until Queensland Health Scientific Services analysed the drivers' saliva samples in its laboratory and confirmed the presence of drugs before they could be charged.
All 10 drivers tested positive to driving while under the influence of methamphetamine.

A 42-year-old man has been summonsed to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 31 and a 25-year-old man will appear in the same court on February 11.

Since random drug-testing of drivers was introduced on December 1, 19 drivers have tested positive to drugs, up until midnight on Thursday.

Police are still awaiting laboratory confirmation of the remaining nine test results.

Of the 19 drivers, 17 tested positive to methamphetamine, one tested positive to both methamphetamine and cannabis and one tested positive for ecstasy.

Drug-drivers can be fined up to $1050, lose their licence or face up to three months' jail.
Police hope to saliva-test about 20,000 drivers in the first year of the random roadside drug-testing operations and expect about 300 to test positive to illicit drugs.

The introduction of drug testing comes as Queensland cut its road toll by more than two-thirds for the official holiday period, with four deaths against last year's 13.
Across Australia, 45 people died on the roads this season compared with 62 last year.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Courts Uphold Workplace Drug Testing - Once Again

Alberta Court of Appeal ruling upholds construction workplace drug testing
(Source: Canadian Press)

EDMONTON - Construction and energy companies are happy with an Alberta court ruling that upholds the right of employers to test workers for drugs.

The Alberta Court of Appeal's decision overturned a lower court judgment that said Kellogg, Brown & Root Co. discriminated against a man in 2002 when it fired him from an oilsands project near Fort McMurray after he tested positive for marijuana.

John Chiasson, who admitted to being a recreational pot smoker, filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which ruled against him. The commission said there needs to be a balance between an individual's human rights and the needs of an employer in protecting others.

But Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheilah Martin then ruled in his favour. She said he should have been treated the same as someone with a drug addiction, which is considered a disability in human rights case law.
The panel of three Appeal Court justices disagreed. The judges said it is legitimate for Kellogg, Brown & Root to presume that people who use drugs at all are a safety risk in an already dangerous workplace.

"We see this case as no different than that of a trucking or taxi company which has a policy requiring its employees to refrain from the use of alcohol for some time before the employee drives one of the employer's vehicles," the justices wrote.

"Extending human rights protections to situations resulting in placing the lives of others at risk flies in the face of logic."

Kellogg, Brown & Root, one of the largest construction firms in the world, was helping to build an expansion to Syncrude Canada's plant at the time of Chiasson's case and is still active in the oilsands.

Andrew Robertson, a lawyer for the company, said the Appeal Court's decision is important to energy and construction industries.

"It is refreshing to see the Alberta Court of Appeal factor in risk management in safety-sensitive workplaces in a circumstance when there had been a recent focus on human rights issues," he said.

Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for Texas-based Kellogg, Brown & Root, hailed the ruling.
"KBR is a leader in workplace safety, and maintaining that commitment is the company's top priority," Browne said Wednesday.
"The court ruling upholds that commitment and we look forward to continuing our work in that regard."

"This affects a lot of people and it is important. The commission does have a duty to ensure that the rights of all Albertans - both employers and employees - are balanced in this respect."

During the original court case, officials with oilsands giant Syncrude testified that the company's lost-time rate from accidents has dropped in part because of drug and alcohol testing.

Syncrude, Suncor, Albian Sands and other major oilsands heavyweights test their employees for drugs before they are allowed on jobsites.

Kara Flynn, a spokeswoman for Syncrude, said that in a broad sense, the Appeal Court ruling supports the company's drug-testing policy and goals.

"Any judicial decisions that support that are greatly appreciated," she said.

The impact of the ruling is already starting to ripple beyond Alberta's boundaries.
Phil Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Business Association in British Columbia, said while workplace drug testing is common on major projects in Alberta, it is the exception in B.C.

He expects that is going to change.
"I think that workplace testing of construction workers is probably an issue whose time has come," he said from Vancouver.
"I think this case is going to spur more of this jobsite testing, not only on big industrial jobs, but on commercial and institutional jobs throughout the country."