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RecoveryPlus1

Recovery Plus your library’s essential reference Feb 2016 31 About the author George Powell is CEO and founder of Summit Diagnostics, with over 30 years’ experience in the clinical testing business, in both products and services. George serves on the boards of a number of laboratories and has expertise in lab start up, compliance, production and partnering with labs to assure compliance and cost containment. He is an avid supporter of the recovery effort locally and internationally – so much so that in 2016 be became copublisher of Recovery Plus journal. How have innovation and technology impacted drug testing and the rehab sector over the past decade? How important is testing to integrity of addiction services?George Powell has answers. The best analogy for immunoassay results is telling a friend you’re going to Wembley Stadium but could not say where you sit. For example, you could have a positive opiate but not know if it was heroin or poppy seeds from a bagel! Confirmation is a much deeper science and helps to distinguish what actual drug is present. Going back to the analogy above, using lab confirmation technology you could tell your friend that you were in Wembley, what section, row and seat – and probably what you ate. This is important for medical professionals to help them determine what medications their patients are on and taking correctly and which they might be taking without consent. In many cases it’s innocent but adverse drug reactions are a big problem. Multiple physicians can prescribe medications, not knowing what each is prescribing. Self-medicating is a problem as well. These tests help distinguish what’s present and what might not work well together. What other trends have you seen over the past decade or more? In the US, when pain care medicine became prevalent in 2004-2005, we started seeing big issues. An even bigger problem was diversion – when somebody obtains a medication, but doesn’t necessarily take it but instead sells it on the street. It’s a huge problem because these drugs were prescribed to resolve a problem like a pain issue or depression. Medications sell at a premium on the streets and are a gateway to more illicit drug use. This is where the drug-testing industry started having an important place in the market. “Doctor shopping” was popular and diversion rampant. Then there are pregnant women who use marijuana, which is stronger than ever. Statistics show that marijuana is more of a gateway drug than previously believed – and it is only one of many drugs that pregnant women can use. There will be adverse effects on the baby. We’re trying to get a reasonable testing protocol based on medical necessity for each patient that takes into account many variables. These variables include type of testing, how to test, when to test and frequency of testing. In the past that’s been the biggest problem: labs have had protocols that say you should test for every drug that’s out there, three or more times per week. That is unnecessary: there are ways to


RecoveryPlus1
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