Routine Mass Spec Urine Drug Testing Gaining Traction
More than half of urine samples from addiction treatment patients tested using mass spectrometry-based techniques show some level of unexpected drug use, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Opioid Management. These results, the authors say, demonstrate the high number of cases of ongoing drug use or relapse missed by immunoassay urine drug testing (UDT). Immunoassay testing (IA) had its roots in point-of-care testing for forensic applications but was adopted in addiction treatment practice due to its quick, cheap nature. The tests are also limited due to their targeting of specific drug classes (i.e., amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and opiates). So, confirmatory testing with mass spectrometry-based tests are often necessary to verify the accuracy of IA results. Clinicians are increasingly recognizing the need for comprehensive, yet specific UDT, which is driving testing towards mass spectrometry (MS). Researchers from Millennium Research Institute (San Diego) analyzed 4,299 samples from the company’s laboratory database (Q1 2013) sent in from addiction treatment and recovery practices that consistently report medication lists to the laboratory. Samples all underwent liquid chromatography tandem MS (LC-MS). The vast majority of LC-MS results (92.6 percent) were positive for one or more substances. Less than half […]
The Future of MS-Based Testing in Addiction Practice The authors acknowledge that the cost of IA and LC-MS testing can vary by 10fold, which raises questions regarding the financial impact of incorporating routine, nonconfirmatory MS testing into addiction treatment practice. The answer to this question, Passik says, requires a staged approach which will utilize more frequent testing to those who are newly sober (“to ritualize adherence” with a regimen that aids accountability) and less frequent testing in those demonstrating long-term sobriety. The American Society of Addiction Medicine December 2013 white paper recognized that drug testing technology “can and should” play a larger role in helping to deter unhealthy drug use, but the paper stopped short of making recommendations regarding testing frequency or strategy. Now, a consensus group of addiction professionals are drafting a forthcoming set of recommendations that are anticipated to address frequency of testing by suggesting a schedule of early IA sobriety testing three times a week, with one sample randomly sent to the laboratory for definitive (not confirmatory) LS-MS testing. Passik says these recommendations could represent a “pretty big” shift in testing once engrained in routine addiction treatment practice. Takeaway: There will be a noticeable shift in UDT towards MS-based tests for definitive, nonconfirmatory results. Use of this sensitive test will uncover lapses earlier in the addiction treatment process than IA.
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