Since establishing that antiretrovirals (ARVs) cause positive cross-reactions during employee drug testing, saliva testing methods, which circumvent cross-reaction issues, have drastically increased in popularity, says Pretoria-based drug and alcohol testing equipment and accessories company Alco-Safe.
Last year, Engineering News reported that drug testing companies had noticed that the legal use of ARVs was creating cross-reactions in commonly used urine-based screening tests. Such tests do not test for the parent compound of a drug, but rather the metabolised compound, which is excreted after the drug has been broken down by the body. Subsequently, urine-based tests will test for a familial drug compound, such as opiates, but opiates include heroine, morphine and even myprodol.
Alco-Safe MD Rhys Evans says all the companies serviced by Alco-Safe used the urine-based testing methods in 2012, but 35% of these companies have now elected to use saliva testing. These companies favour the saliva testing methods, claiming that the process is simpler, faster and less invasive. He says the demand for saliva testing equipment continues to grow yearly.
In this regard, Alco-Safe’s Drug Detection System 2 (DDS2) is particularly popular. It is a saliva-based drug testing system that has been tested on patients using ARVs and does not cross-react. “While this system is more expensive than commonly used urine-based drug testing methods, it inevitably saves companies money in confirmation testing,” says Evans.
The system has multiple benefits beyond preventing cross-reaction, he states. The test entails swabbing the inside of an employee’s mouth on site. Unlike urine tests, the process of testing does not require privacy and can be performed at any time, inevitably saving time and eliminating the possibility of employees swapping out test samples. The DDS2 kit is considered to be more user friendly, as a print-out of the results eliminates misinterpretation and tester bias.
“The time of people saying [drug testing] is difficult, time-consuming and expensive has passed as every-day incidents of drug busts and alcohol abuse can cost companies and the economy,” concludes Evans.