Parents often struggle with the worry of drug and alcohol use in their kids and teens and this time of year can be especially worrisome with upcoming graduation, parties and summer celebrations. Campaigns about sober graduation only go so far.
Patch discovered that shoppers can buy home drug test kits, that are unregulated by the FDA, for only one dollar at the local dollar store in town.
We set out to track down one of these tests and it didn't take long to find the blue and green box, complete with a picture of hemp leaves, stocked on the shelves of the local in Dublin.
The "Easy Screen Home Drug Test" was hanging on the rack near the pregnancy tests and insoles. We also found them at knee height in the check-out lane surrounded by Blistex, glow bracelets, travel toiletries and a Tinkerbell keychain in the area most of us know as the "impulse section" of the store.
We bought the drug test, which tests for marijuana usage, for one dollar and set out for some answers. Are these tests accurate?
The box claims the test is "97% accurate" with results in just five minutes of dipping the single-use strip in the urine sample. It shows a simple plus or minus to tell the tester positive or negative for having tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as “THC”) in the body.
The test says it is for "over-the-counter and prescription use" with a cutoff of “50ng/mL of Cannabinoids.” (Ng is the abbreviation for a nanogram.)
The package insert reads “Easy Screen test to Federal Guidelines for detection. Other drug test and methods may in fact test to standards and levels higher than Federal Guidelines.”
Patch tried to reach the Dollar Tree Corporate for comment about the Easy Screen drug tests but did not get a call back and the store manager was unable to provide comment.
Other drug store chains do offer home drug tests for marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, Ecstacy and cocaine but those tests run upwards of 30 dollars and the sample must be sent out in order to obtain results.
Jeff Soto of Teen Savers, a retailer of home drug test kits, says tests like Easy Screen are not generally reliable.
“Tests like Easy Screen are usually Chinese-made. Many aren’t consistent and can vary in the levels they test from box to box in each lot produced,” he said. “A lot of the people buying these products are users themselves who are checking because they have a drug screen coming up at work or something like that.”
Soto says that accurate home drug test kits must go through a rigorous screening and process with the Food and Drug Administration in order to qualify for FDA approval.
Although Patch’s attempts to reach the FDA went unanswered, a search of their website shows that in August of 2011, Greenbrier International Incorporated’s EasySCREEN Marijuana Test Strip, for Cannabinoids or THC was waived from regulatory oversite.
According to the FDA website:
"Tests can be categorized as "waived" from regulatory oversite if they meet certain requirements established by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) law. By selecting a Test System Name, you can view the CLIA data for that Test System, including the corresponding 510(K) record, if applicable.”
In order to be considered for waivers per the FDA:
1) Any test listed in the regulation
2) Any test system for which the manufacturer or producer applies for waiver if that test meets the statutory criteria and the manufacturer provides scientifically valid data verifying that the waiver criteria have been met
3) Test systems cleared by the FDA for home use.
A call from Patch to the manufacturer's customer service department went unanswered.
“The cheap tests can give a parent a false sense of security,” said Soto.
Soto did acknowledge that merely having the box of tests present in the home, regardless of the brand, may be a deterrent to help your child consider not using.
At such an attractive price with instant results the Easy Screen test seems enticing to parents who are fraught with worry over their kid's possible drug usage.
If you thought your kids have used, would you buy one of these unregluated home test kits to check up on them?