If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I try to keep my topics educational. However, sometimes something new and interesting on the horizon is worthy of its own announcement, if only to determine if anyone else is excited about the potential as we are. In fact, more than ever, we would love to have feedback from you on the potential usefulness of this new test.
Just landed on my desk is an early version of an instant test that uses hair follicle as the specimen!
In the past, hair testing was only available via laboratory testing. The lab testing for hair is generally expensive and limited in which substances it can detect. The potential to have an instant POC (point of care) hair test will counter both of these shortcomings. While we do not have a price-point for these yet, we anticipate a cost not much higher than oral fluids tests, far from the cost of the laboratory version. Also, while most laboratories who even offer hair testing are only testing for five basic drug classes or so; no Fentanyl, no Alcohol, not even Benzodiazepines are being offered for screening by most laboratories performing hair testing. Early information indicates that the instant version would have the potential to detect any substance where there is already a urine test version available.
There is one other reason hair follicle testing remains less-popular than urine testing, and that is the window of detection. To learn more about the different specimen types, please read my previous blog post on the topic here. I will summarize here: while in urine we detect substances used within the past few days or weeks, depending on the substance, substances in hair follicle specimens are detected for 10-90 days. In other words, it will take about 10 days for a substance to begin to be detected (onset) and will be detectable for about 90 days after (outset). This window of detection does not work well for every setting.
There are a few other benefits of hair testing. One being that there is no need for same-sex collectors or even a bathroom. Another would be that it is almost impossible to adulterate a hair specimen. No more “shy bladder” excuses for producing a specimen is also a bonus of hair testing.
In the coming weeks I will be testing the early version that I have here and will be documenting my process and my results, and will post a full report of the testing process from start to finish.
In the meantime, as I mentioned, we would love to hear from you: Is this something that would be useful or not? Please reach out to me or your consultant and share your thoughts.