26 November 2008

New drug test hits the shelves

Forget the breathalyser: there's a DrugAlyzer on the market. And forget about urine or blood tests - this one tests sweat and saliva.

Testing for drugs has always been complicated, requiring blood or urine samples, which isn't that convenient on the side of the road, or if you're having a showdown with your partner.

The launch of a new test kit, however, is set to change all that.

Drug testing at road blocks
Avi Lasarow and Ashley Uys from Trimega Diagnostics recently launched what they are calling their DrugAlyzer * range. The range comprises of an alcohol testing key ring which indicates whether an individual is over the legal alcohol limit and a unique salvia test which indicates whether he/she has been using drugs.

According to Lasarow, the DrugAlyzer products is a relatively simple and user-friendly design which can be used by anyone from parents and teachers to employers and police. One of the prime functions of the products, he said, was so that people could "take responsibility for themselves before getting behind the wheel of a car".

Trimega Diagnostics (PTY) Limited is the company chosen to deliver South Africa’s first ever roadside drug testing pilot programme. The company is a joint venture between UK-based Trimega Laboratories and Real World Diagnostics. The DrugAlyzer alcohol key ring range is available at selected Alpha Pharmacy outlets to include Alpha Pharmacies branded version of the drug test.

How it works
To use the DrugAlyzer test, one takes a sample of an individual’s saliva or sweat to determine if they are driving under the influence of a drug (illegal under Section 65 of the Road Traffic Act).

A simple swipe of the product against the forehead of a suspect is enough to indicate whether they have ingested a drug that has an intoxicating effect. Similar tests have been conducted in the UK, Germany and Australia, with encouraging results to date.

“We hope to use our experience to provide scientific testing in a form that can be understood easily by the consumer,” said Lasarow.

Lasarow and Uys have actually carried out several such tests on motorists in and around Cape Town in conjunction with the police, and said there had been an alarming number of motorists driving under the influence of a variety of drugs, which included Tik and dagga.

Why it works
According to Uys and Lasarow, the strength of the test is that it's so non-invasive. At the roadblocks, they said, most people were willing to co-operate.

Who can use it?
According to Steve White, pharmacist and president of the Community Pharmacist Sector of the Pharmaceutical Society of SA, the test which is popular with both parents and employers, who wanted to check their kids or their employees for drug use.

It retails for around R200.

(Health24, September 2008)

Read more:
Drugging and driving
How deadly is pot?


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