The September, 1986 issue of HIGH TIMES magazine contained an article that listed a few of
The September, 1986 issue of HIGH TIMES magazine contained an
article that listed a few of the over the counter (and prescribed)
drugs that 'cross-react' (cause false positives) when users of these
'legal' drugs are tested using the EMIT Cannabinoid Assay method. This
method (I don't know the details of how it works) is used by both the
companies who are manufacturing urinalysis testing devices.
The drugs mentioned are:
The article goes on to point out that Naprosyn is manufactured by the
Syntex drug manufacturing company, which solely owns the Syva company
which merchandises . . . you guessed it, EMIT Cannabinoid Assay! So,
here we have a company which made $26,200,000 on sales of EMIT in
3Q86, and also made $122,800,000 selling a drug that would show up
on said machine as marijuana (also in 3Q86). This situation has been
going on since 1980. The other company that manufactures testing machines
is the Hoffman-Laroche/Roche Diagnostics company of N.J.
A different article in the same magazine describes that neither
company feels 'responsible' for "..thousands of people (who) have been
deprived of their livelihoods...by the determination of these machines
that these people were 'using' illegal drugs." The companies point out
that actual testing is done by "..hundreds of different private commercial
labs and local hospitals..." and that there is "...no way to determine if
the lab techs are operating the equipment properly and proficiently.
The article lists the following categories of 'drug detection' for the
given over-the-counter medicines:
Dorcol Childrens cough syrup
[anything containing dextromethorphan]
Quadrahist Pediatric Syrup
[anything with phenylpropanolamine]
(also anything with ephedrine):
Also revealed, is that in 1984 DoD figures showed a steady 49%
rate of unconfirmed urinalysis positives when the testing was done
by Mead Compu-Chem, and up to 100% false positives in labs elsewhere.
Mead was advised that if they wanted to keep the contract, they
would have to switch from Syva's EMIT gear to Roche's Abuscreen
radio-immunoassay drug test. This touched off a battle between the
two companies which resulted in both firms pointing out many basic
flaws in the testing machine's design, the lab technician's operation,
and the DoD's drug testing program in general.
Any one who would care to eliminate the chance of a false positive
while on these OTC medications should know that the testing device looks
for a ph factor between 3:00 and 4:00. By changing the ph (with 6 grams
of salt [NaCl], or smaller ammounts of ammonia or Draino) you cause the
machine to reject the sample as urine, and yields a 'clean' result.
What gets me about the whole thing is that anyone can now be considered
guilty, and must provide proof that (s)he is innocent. This does not only
occur in the workplace, but in our homes. Here in Chicago, if I don't
like someone, all I have to do is call the Crime Hotline and make an
anonymous tip, and soon the police will be giving them the thumbscrews.
People who have the attitude that since I have nothing to hide I should
hide nothing, are missing the point of protection against illegal search
and seizure. How would these same people react if the police asked to
perform "A house to house search to detect (with drug sniffers) any
controlled substances, paraphernalia, or manufacturing devices.". And
while they were at it they could keep their eyes open for any deviate
sexual material or practices, anti government literature or attitudes,
or unpaid parking tickets. Where will it stop!
If anyone runs afoul of this grossly inaccurate method of
persecution can contact NORML for a referral to a local lawer.
20001 S St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Indiscriminate drug testing of ANYONE should be actively opposed
for the following reasons:
1. If a requirement to urinate at a time I would rather not, in front
of another person, is not an invasion of privacy, then the strip
search is also not invading privacy. The notion of privacy and
personal freedom is a great American invention, and we should
not allow it to vanish. I do not like slippery slope argument,
but random testing proposal is a part of a major effort to diminish
an individual for the sake of purported good of the society. It
includes the trend to allow illegal tactics by police (provided that
the police is not knowing what it is doing (?!)), censorship for the
current and former federal employers, copying the notes made abroad
while one return to the country, attacks against the right to abortion,
advocating public school prayer, etc. etc. The slippery slope is here,
and is damn slippery. In couple of years we may be forced to signed
clauses allowing random searches at your home (to eliminate rampant
misuse of office supplies): if you have something to be afraid about,
then may be you are a thief!
2. It is worth to notice that the current drug hysteria is caused by so
called crack epidemic. However, cocaine is one of the least vulnerable
drugs: it tests negative several days after use. What the testing
does it makes cocaine preferable to marijuana, and designer drugs
preferable to cocaine.
3. In spite of the recent ruckus, the drug problem seems to be receding,
and not because of enforcement. America became health crazy, the
consumption of alcohol, tobacco and many other drugs goes down.
Students cherish more the job prospects and health than counter-culture
values. Enforcement in the meantime is a pathetic side of the equation.
One should concentrate more on the things which may be effective
(like education, prevention, rehabilitation), instead of throwing
money in a showy and ineffective fashion.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank