Parents often struggle with the worry of drug and alcohol use with their children, and this time of year can be especially worrisome with upcoming graduation, parties and summer celebrations. Campaigns about sober graduation go only so far.
Patch discovered that shoppers can buy home drug test kits, that are unregulated by the FDA, for only one dollar at the store on Fitzgerald Drive.
We set out to track down one of these tests and found the blue and green box, with the image of a marijuana leaf, stocked on a shelf in the health and beauty aisle.
We bought the "Easy Screen Home Drug Test" for marijuana usage, for a buck. Are these tests accurate?
The box says the test is "97 percent accurate" with results within five minutes after dipping the single-use strip into a urine sample. It shows a simple plus or minus to tell if the sample is positive or negative for having tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as “THC”) in the body.
The test kit 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 Dollar Tree corporate officials for comment about the Easy Screen drug tests but did not get a call back.
Some drug store chains offer home drug tests for marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, Ecstacy and cocaine, but those tests run upward of $30 and the sample must be sent out in order to get results.
Jeff Soto of Teen Savers, a manufacturer of home drug test kits, said 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 said 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 2011, Greenbrier International Incorporated’s EasySCREEN Marijuana Test Strip, for Cannabinoids or THC was waived from regulatory oversight.
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 acknowledged that merely having the box of tests present in the home, regardless of the brand, may be a deterrent to using.
At such an attractive price with instant results, the Easy Screen test seems enticing to parents who worry about possible drug use.
Would you trust these kinds of test kits? We invite readers to vote in our poll and/or to leave comments below.