Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Friday, August 5, 2011
During one of our Express Diagnostics rap sessions a few months back one of our sales guys relayed some noteworthy information he gleaned from the Office of National Drug Control Policy website. In preparation for this blog I whipped out that little nugget and perused the facts. Over and over I kept bumping up against notations stating an increase of "non-medical use" of prescription medications. Many of these factoids were reported from 2004 through 2009, which indicated it would be advisable to check them out ONDCP website for myself. It's an unexpectedly engaging site, easy to navigate, lots of useful info and the blogs, unlike this one, are interesting yet professional. And yes, there they were, more reports of the continued misuse of prescription drugs.
While the ONDCP's 2008 study isn't as current as I would have hoped, it's still very telling. In the Prescription for Danger, A Report on the Troubling Trend of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Among the Nation's Teens the Executive Summary states that the abuse of prescription drugs among adolescents is greater than any other illicit drug except marijuana. The myth that prescriptions are somehow safe or safer than illicit drugs, combined with the readily available supply, primarily garnered from many a ubiquitous household medicine cabinet, have skyrocketed the of number deaths related to their use. Additionally, the mixture of OTC and prescription meds has been hugely amplified, which again, can have deadly outcomes. Predictably, the prescription drugs most frequently abused by teens are narcotic pain relievers such as oxycontin, methadone, buprenorphine and propoxyphene. Yet, tricyclic antidepressants and barbiturates are common culprits as well. Generally, benzodiazepines alone are not highly abused, but when combined with methadone and/or alcohol have a significantly increased risk for overdose or death.
As reported on the ONDCP website, last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "released findings from a recent analysis of drug overdose deaths in Florida between 2003 and 2009. The report found, between 2003 and 2009, the number of annual deaths in which testing showed lethal concentrations of one or more drugs increased 61 percent, from 1,804 to 2,905." The CDC also found that "prescription medications were implicated in 76.1% of all drug overdose deaths in Florida, while drugs like heroin and cocaine were implicated in 33.9% of the deaths. The greatest increase in death rates among prescription drugs were for oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin) with a 264.4% increase; alprazolam (Xanax) with a 233.8% increase; methadone with a 79.2%; hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) with a 34.9% increase; and morphine with a 26.2% increase. Among illicit drugs, there was an overall decrease in death rates of 21.4%, with a 62.2% decrease for heroin and a 10.8% decrease for cocaine."
Express Diagnostics is vested in providing simple, affordable onsite drug testing devices. We strive to be innovative and continue to merge research, toxicology, manufacturing, and market expertise to provide excellent product and unsurpassed service. Reports of this kind motivate us to research and develop products to empower our partners to build a comprehensive drug testing program. While we strive to reach and maintain our goals, please take a look at the following information provided by TheAntiDrug.com:
Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse
Think about your home. What prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs do you have? Where are they kept? Would you know if some were missing? The good news is that you can take steps immediately to limit access to these drugs and help keep your teen drug-free:
- Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Take note of how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet, and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medication, as well as for your teen and other members of your household. If you find you have to refill medication more often than expected, there could be a real problem—someone may be taking your medication without your knowledge. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, be sure you control the medication, and monitor dosages and refills.
- Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider's advice and dosages. Make sure your teen uses prescription drugs only as directed by a medical provider and follows instructions for OTC products carefully. This includes taking the proper dosage and not using with other substances without a medical provider's approval. Teens should never take prescription or OTC drugs with street drugs or alcohol. If you have any questions about how to take a drug, call your family physician or pharmacist.
- Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines. Examine your own behavior to ensure you set a good example. If you misuse your prescription drugs, such as share them with your kids, or abuse them, your teen will take notice. Avoid sharing your drugs and always follow your medical provider's instructions.
- Properly conceal and dispose of old or unneeded medicines in the trash. Unneeded prescription drugs should be hidden and thrown away in the trash. So that teens or others don't take them out of the trash, you can mix them with an undesirable substance (like used coffee grounds or kitty litter) and put the mixture in an empty can or bag. Unless the directions say otherwise, do NOT flush medications down the drain or toilet because the chemicals can pollute the water supply. Also, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
- Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well. Make sure your friends and relatives, especially grandparents, know about the risks, too, and encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinets. If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of safeguarding medications. If you don't know the parents of your child's friends, then make an effort to get to know them, and get on the same page about rules and expectations for use of all drugs, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Follow up with your teen's school administration to find out what they are doing to address issues of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse in schools.
Friday, July 15, 2011
On this clammy Friday morning in mid-July the Express Diagnostics office is humming with activity. The production week is Monday through Thursday, but the office staff is still here and we are a dynamic bunch! Yesterday the Marketing and Sales departments participated in an afternoon-long webinar/work session that included our Bostonian colleague Les, and Rich our CFO who resides in California. I think we are all still buzzing with the excitement generated by hard work and effective collaboration. Work sessions are a newly developed initiate at EDI. More than just the typical; "departmental meeting," work sessions have become an extremely useful tool for our burgeoning organization. Only a few years ago our "department heads," which numbered three, met at a scuffed card table in a highly trafficked break room; now we have webinars! Thanks to enormous advancements in our technologic capabilities, we are now able to view and collaborate collectively on marketing projects and product development. Yesterday, as we all gazed intently at the newest marketing material on the large TV on the conference room wall; our CEO paused and said, "Isn't this amazing"? Yes, Paul, I agree. You see, roughly ten years ago DrugCheck had one drug of abuse testing device – the round cup. This lone device had about 20 different configurations. Now we have a large variety of devices ranging from the original cup to our newest VeriCheck Results Manager. I just confirmed that between urine and oral fluid testing devices, support products and breath alcohol test, we have over 800 items in our DrugCheck product catalog.
As our Director of Marketing, The Wangenator – Slayer of All Things Marketing, has so eloquently stated on our website, EDI will "simplify your drug screening efforts and reduce costs with DrugCheck on-site drug testing." As we continue to maintain our current success we consistently aim higher and set evermore challenging objectives. Which brings me back to our work sessions, where successes are celebrated, setbacks are analyzed, ideas are born and innovative concepts percolate. The VeriCheck Results Manager is one example of EDI's commitment to providing outstanding, innovative products. Many afternoons were spent with the Sales and Marketing departments gathered around the conference room table testing, demonstrating, adjusting and tweaking the product before we deemed it ready to go. This process may not be speedy, but it is effective and we anticipate our excitement will transfer to our customers as well.
The Waive RT was another revolutionary new product that materialized from a work session. The Waive RT emerged as the only CLIA-waived device that detects MET and MDMA at 500 ng/mL which contributes to an increased sensitivity for enhanced drug detection. The development of the Waive RT's "results ready timer" has provided EDI customers with a simple, yet accurate way to call presumptive positive results. During yesterday's work session we conferenced with our new lab services partner, Phamatech, Inc. This exciting partnership will provide our customers with complete laboratory services from an industry-leading forensic and clinical toxicology lab.
Now it's Friday afternoon and one would think that all the buzzing would have subsided, but quite the contrary. We are beginning to ramp-up for the official VeriCheck launch and next round of Waive RT promotions. Nick aka "SpeciMan," is smoothing out a handful of last planning details for AACC in Atlanta at the end of the month and whoa, a stray lightning bolt just knocked out our server for a minute! Speaking of Nick, make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for special social media promotions and updates on the adventures of SpeciMan!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
One of my all-time favorite commercials included the tag line, "It's the most advanced piece of technology you will ever pee on," or something close to that anyway. Initially, I agreed with that premise, but since I joined the team at Express Diagnostics Int'l (EDI) I have had to revisit this assertion. DrugCheck® has some pretty awesomely sophisticated urine drug testing devices, and while you don't technically pee "on" them, your pee assuredly comes in contact with them.
DrugCheck's urinalysis tests come in two distinct formats: cups and dips. DrugCheck® cups are very popular and I am beginning to understand why. Our cups are very easy to use and deliver instant results. Their convenience and accuracy make them one of our best sellers. The self-contained urinalysis screening cups detect the presence of drug metabolites in minutes, using SAMHSA cutoff levels. EDI manufactures round (NxStep Onsite) and flat-sided (NxScan Onsite) cups. Our NxScan cups, or as we call them "flat-panel," offer the same vast array of configurations available in our round cups, with one added feature – NxScan cups can be read on our new VeriCheck™ Results Manager. Now, here comes even more exciting news, the VeriCheck™ Results Manager can also be used with DrugCheck® urine dips and the brand new SalivaScan™ oral fluid drug test! The system can read lateral-flow tests with up to 10 drugs of abuse test strips, including adulterants pH, nitrite, glutaraldehyde, creatinine, oxidants/bleach and specific gravity.
The VeriCheck™ Results Manager is an affordable, accurate diagnostic test reading system for hospitals, point-of-care organizations, labs and more. This slick unit gives the user one-click activation capability so interaction is minimized and results can be interpreted on multiple test strips at one time. The handy results database enables the user to immediately produce and print reports. Each system includes a bar-coded template that contains all the information required to process the device.
Last week, The Wangenator provided a short symposium at the VeriCheck™ "Training Institute" (conference room). The Sales and Marketing department sat rapt as he demonstrated the system on our huge flat-screen TV. Recently, Scooby Doo was asked to provide a "donation" into a NxScan flat-panel cup. The Wangenator placed the flat-panel cup – with bar-coded template – on the scanner, clicked the button and ta-da, scan complete. The system directed us immediately to the results interpretation screen. Alas, according to the VeriCheck™ Results Manager, Scoob had recently indulged in a "Scooby snack". And although he tested positive for THC, the negative results for methamphetamine, cocaine, methadone, PCP, and six other drugs of abuse were quite clear.
The VeriCheck™ system allows the test administrator to visually confirm any results the software displays and "flags" any presumptive positive or abnormal results, which the system requires the administrator to confirm or over-ride. It also provides fields to add comments specific to that test. Learn more at www.drugcheck.com/dc_vericheck.html .
So I have to respectfully disagree with "un-named pregnancy test company". Their advanced piece of technology is not the most sophisticated device you might ever pee on. If you doubt me, check out Express Diagnostic's website – www.drugcheck.com – or give us a call.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
It's taken me almost two weeks to get this blog written. Once I gathered the information I was so overwhelmed with scientific terms and chemical compositions, I lost focus. My goal was to write a concise yet comprehensive piece about how DrugCheck now has the capability to test for EDDP. Then I realized what I don't know about EDDP far outweighs what I do know. I do know that Express Diagnostics manufactures devices that test for drugs, specifically illicit drugs of abuse and lawful drugs that are abused. I know that quite often lately news headlines inform us drug use is increasing, specifically among young people and specifically the use of "designer drugs." But what about the good 'ol standards, like heroin and morphine? Yes, they are still just as prevalent and menacing as ever. Treatment facilities and rehabs continue to care for patients with these addictions and one of the most widely used methods is administration of methadone. Then throw in abuse of methadone by patients who are prescribed the medication either for "detoxification treatment of opiod dependence and maintenance in narcotic addition" for severe pain (nhtsa.gov). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "compared to morphine, methadone has a much longer duration of action, suppressing opiate withdrawal symptoms and remaining efficacious for an extended period of time with repeated administration." Thus, providing a longer period of time by between uses which assists in breaking the cycle. Because methadone, "undergoes extensive biotransformations in the liver" it is eventually metabolized to EDDP. Whew, that took a while, but I finally got there. So as far as I can figure, what it boils down to is that testing for methadone itself can be a bit tricky but testing for methadone's metabolite, EDDP is a bit easier. Also, it is excreted in urine and testing for EDDP instead of methadone lessens the "interference of the patients metabolism…EDDP can be detected within 4 to 6 hours after use, cleared by the body within 2 to 3 days" (drugcheck.com/dc_info-eddp.html).
Both DrugCheck's current urine testing devices and brand new oral fluid device, SalivaScan, has the ability to detect EDDP at 20 ng/mL. In the drug testing world, that's huge; (or as The Donald would say, "yuge.") Speaking of SalivaScan, EDI just launched this groundbreaking new product today – worldwide. SalivaScan is available with up to ten different drugs including alcohol…which leads me to yet another topic, but I will leave that for next time. Hopefully it won't take me two weeks to get this one done.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
For a short time in the 90's I lived in Minneapolis. I was a young, very naive small town girl dating a slightly older 'regular joe' kinda guy. Around about our third date he asked if I would like to run an errand with him on a Saturday afternoon. He said he was preparing for a job interview and needed to pick up something to help him get ready. We hopped in his car and headed toward downtown. Within minutes I found myself at what I thought was an urban myth. I will call this place, "High Voltage". I had often heard of High Voltage; of the awesome vintage vinyl they offered, where the urbane youth came to procure obscure music. This was a bit daunting. I didn't know how to act and thought I knew what to expect…until Joe made it clear we were not there to peruse old albums.
So what was Joe looking for? Something to conceal the fact that just that morning, unbeknownst to me, he had smoked pot. Sadly, Joe knew that adulterants are often used to mask the presence of illicit drugs in an attempt to outwit a drug test. According to Amitiva Dasgupta, writer for CBS Business Network, "household chemicals, such as bleach, acid, vinegar, lemon juice, eye drops and table salt are routinely used to beat drug tests. These agents can cause false negative test results…". In a study conducted by the Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, "Liquid Drano, bleach, and vinegar shifted urine pH outside the physiological range. Golden-seal tea caused a dark appearance, and specimens containing liquid soap were unusually cloudy. Lemon juice had no effect on the assays. Visine was the only adulterant not
Express Diagnostics is keen to these devious methods and offers six different adulteration tests panels in their products. Dasgupta also reports that, "specimen integrity tests can detect the presence of such adulterants because of altered pH, specific gravity and/or temperature." Ta da, DrugCheck also includes temperature strips on all of its cups! But let's return to the scene at High Voltage, Joe just purchased a bottle which contained a sickly, orange sludge and started gulping it down as soon as we got in the car. So, this wasn't something he was going to add to his pee, this was something he was going to use before the test.
Joe was attempting to eliminate the remnants of THC (pot) in his system. Unfortunately for Joe, THC is fat soluble or is stored in fat cells. No amount of orange sludge was going to wash out fifteen years worth of drugs from his system. Twenty or so years later there is an easier, more discreet way of obtaining such potions. Now the web is chocked full of sites purporting to offer a safe, cheap or no-fail way to flush drugs out of your system. Hawkers of such products always add the caveat that there is no guarantee; that's about the only thing they are right about. Frequent users also attempt to flush out or "detox" illicit substances from their bodies. One website offers "cleaners" and "deep cleaning regimens" which act as hyper-hydrating agents or diuretics; one product is even called "Power Flush." Not only do these methods not work, they will activate the adulterant tests as well. For example a significantly low pH is just as bad as one that too high.
So, what did I learn from this little experience? 1. High Voltage is a creepy place, even on a sunny spring day. 2. Adulterants can be added to urine in an effort to achieve a false negative test. 3. The orange sledge wasn't an adulterant per se, but a sad attempt at a "body-flush" and more importantly, 4. Guys who take you to High Voltage on a date are even creepier.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday afternoon as I perched precariously on the edge my chair, gazing at a glass covered conference room table, staring at a cup of pee, my fellow EDI colleagues counted the minutes aloud. "Eight and a half" Amy chirped, "but it probably took you 30 seconds to get back in here." "Here" is again the splendid new conference room. This scene occurred near the end of a meeting-of-the-Sales and Marketing-minds, conducted by our fearless, "slayer of all things Marketing, the Wangenator". You see, EDI is all atwitter about our impending new product launch, the "Clia Waived RT." We are like little kids on Christmas Eve, the Monday morning launch just can't get here soon enough!
For those of you not "in the know" about the fascinating world of drug testing devices and the regulations that surround them, here's a little briefing. Clia is really CLIA which, according to the Federal Government is, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. CLIA was born in 1988 as a result of false-negative Pap smear readings (AAPS.org).
Admittedly I had zero knowledge of Clia rules and regs before my stint at EDI. Even now I my knowledge is a bit swiss-cheesy. Thus, our fearless leader, The Wangenator reserved a nugget of time with our very own Professor Lesley Wilson, B.S'er. According to Professor Wilson obtaining a Clia Waiver allows facilities like the laboratories, hospitals, clinics or rehab facilities, that have a Clia Waived certificate issued by their state, to receive reimbursement from the Federal government. Each Clia test is worth approximately twenty bucks from the Feds! Another advantage of the Clia Waive device is that no proficiency testing is required. The AAPS reports that the devices are so simple a fifth grade kid can figure it out. No disrespect fifth-graders.
EDI's newest Clia device has this awesome red dot on the side of the cup that indicates when the test is ready to read. Additionally it is the only Clia Waive test on the market with a methamphetamine cutoff at 500 ml/ng. This is huge.
So there we sat, staring at a cup of pee, my pee by the way, spellbound and rapt awaiting the RT dot to ripen. As the DOA (drug of abuse) strips began to wick (the urine is drawn up the strip) and it was evident I was not under, nor had I been in the past day or so, under the influence of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, PCP…we let out a collective "ahh". Ten minutes on the dot. It was a thing of beauty. EDI's new Clia Waive RT rocked our socks off.