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For Women Only

I want to dedicate our library to all of those who have lost a loved one to an overdose of drugs and to those who are behind bars because of our drug war policies ---and to all of you who have felt the agony of withdrawal and the stigma of addiction.

This poem is written to symbolize that we will always remember you. 


Remember the days of the past when we met and did not know it would last;                                               

Now that all is said and done we can laugh at all the fun;

Of course we had those days of woe but we pulled ourselves together;

To go in the positive direction with any foe;

Now that our kids are grown and gone; we only pray that their lives don't go wrong;

We can say we did the best we can from the toils of work done by our hands;

To remember all that is done, even the sad times were fun; therefore as

We go to rest our kids and there's all we can know we did our best;

It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game and remember those moments of fame, not when you were a fool;   

So to all the rest remember to do you best and when it comes your day to rest, others will remember and pass on what you say;

To just maybe make someone have a happier day....

JAMA 2005, 293; 1182-1183.

MMWR 2005, 54 33-36

1 figure, 2 tables omitted

Deaths caused by drug poisoning of unintentional and undetermined intent are an increasing problem in Utah and elsewhere in the United States.1 To characterize the trend in drug-poisoning deaths in Utah, CDC and the Utah Department of Health analyzed medical examiner (ME) data for 1991-1998 and 1999-2003. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which determined that, during 1991-2003, the number of Utah residents dying from all drug poisoning increased nearly fivefold, from 79 deaths in 1991 (rate: 4.4 per 100,000 population) to 391 deaths in 2003 (rate: 16.6). This increase has been largely the result of the tripling of the rate (from 1.5 during 1991-1998 to 4.4 during 1999-2003) in poisoning deaths of unintentional or undetermined intent caused by non-illicit drugs  (i.e., medications that can be legally prescribed) (Figure). Further study is needed to understand these trends and to develop strategies to prevent deaths of unintentional or undetermined intent from non-illicit drug poisoning.

Utah has a centralized statewide ME system with statute-specified jurisdiction that includes drug-related deaths. The ME database used for these analyses contains decedent demographics; data on the circumstances, causes, and manner of death; examination results; and laboratory findings.2 A drug-poisoning death was defined as the death of a Utah resident with drug poisoning listed as cause of death. Deaths were identified by searching the ME database for a drug-poisoning–related keyword (e.g., drug, overdose, poisoning, toxicity, or intoxication). Deaths identified by that search were each reviewed to verify that they met the case definition. Each death was classified as related to illicit drugs only, to non-illicit drugs only, or to both illicit and non-illicit drugs. Each death was also classified as (1) intentional (i.e., suicide or homicide) or (2) unintentional (e.g., nonsuicidal, nonhomicidal, or natural deaths) or undetermined (i.e., cause unknown). Decedent characteristics, annual numbers and rates of drug-poisoning deaths, and trends in drug-poisoning deaths were analyzed.

Death rates were calculated by using denominators from the Utah Population Estimate Query System. 3 To examine a possible association between over-weight or obesity and drug-poisoning death, which had been noted anecdotally by Utah MEs, decedents were categorized based on body mass index (BMI).4 For analysis of this association, population estimates were based on results from the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (Unpublished data, 2003). To examine the effect of urban versus rural residence, rates were calculated separately for four urban counties (Davis, Weber, Salt Lake, and Utah counties) that contain approximately 75% of the Utah population, and for the remaining counties in the state, which were classified as rural.3

During 1991-2003, a total of 2,396 drug-poisoning deaths were identified, of which 947 were caused by illicit drugs only, 1,277 by non-illicit drugs only, and 172 by a combination of illicit and non-illicit drugs. Alcohol was also implicated in 22% of drug-poisoning deaths; however, alcohol was not considered a drug for these analyses. The largest increase in annual drug-poisoning deaths (from 55 in 1991 to 237 in 2003) was attributed to non-illicit drugs. Illicit drug-poisoning deaths increased each year during 1991-1998 and then decreased to 92 deaths in 2003. Deaths resulting from a combination of illicit and non-illicit drugs increased gradually during 1991-2002, then increased substantially, from 15 in 2002 to 35 in 2003.

Among deaths attributed to non-illicit drugs, during 1991-2003, a total of 733 were classified as of unintentional or undetermined intent; because these deaths had increased substantially since 1999, they were examined for the periods 1991-1998 and 1999-2003. Further analyses focused on possible associations of selected characteristics of the decedents and the drug types involved in their deaths.

Death rates varied by age group and were highest for adults aged 25-54 years. Comparing cumulative 1991-1998 data with those for 1999-2003, the greatest numeric increase in deaths (from 42 to 142) occurred among adults aged 45-54 years. Death rates per 100,000 population were higher for men than women during both periods (men: 1.86 and 4.90; women: 1.08 and 3.90), but the percentage increase in rates from 1991-1998 to 1999-2003 was greater for women than men (261% versus 163%). More deaths occurred in urban areas than rural areas during both periods (186 versus 45, during 1991-1998; 362 versus 140, during 1999-2003); however, the increase in death rate from 1991-1998 to 1999-2003 was greater in rural areas than urban areas (317% versus 171%). In addition, although substantial increases in death rates occurred from 1991-1998 to 1999-2003 in each BMI category, rates were substantially higher during 1999-2003 among persons who were overweight (5.26 per 100,000 population) or obese (14.25), compared with persons who were not overweight or obese (3.61).

Methadone and other prescription narcotics accounted for most of the increase from 1991-1998 to 1999-2003 in non-illicit drug-poisoning deaths of unintentional or undetermined intent. Comparing these periods, deaths attributable to methadone increased from two to 33 per year, and deaths attributable to other prescription narcotics (principally oxycodone and hydrocodone) increased from 10 to 48 per year. From 1991-1998 to 1999-2003, the proportions of these deaths that involved alcohol or antidepres-sants decreased from 32.9% and 14.7%, respectively, to 19.9% and 6.6%.

Reported by:

EM Caravati, MD, Utah Poison Control Center, Salt Lake City; T Grey, MD, B Nangle, PhD, RT Rolfs, MD, Utah Dept of Health. CA Peterson-Porucznik, PhD, EIS Officer, CDC.

CDC Editorial Note:

The findings in this report indicate that deaths attributed to drug poisoning have increased in Utah for more than a decade; however, the characteristics of these deaths have changed since 1999, when deaths caused by non-illicit drugs began to increase substantially. In 2003, the typical drug-poisoning decedent in Utah was overweight or obese, aged 25-54 years, had died from the effects of non-illicit drugs, and was less likely than previously to be male and to live in an urban area.

The findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, analysis was limited to deaths investigated by the Utah State Office of the Medical Examiner. Although this office has jurisdiction over all deaths thought to be drug-related, some drug-poisoning deaths might not have been properly reported and, therefore, might have been excluded from analysis. Second, BMI values for the decedents were based on measurements made by the ME. The measured body weight at postmortem examination might have been less than the decedent’s usual body weight when alive. In addition, the denominator used for death rate calculations was based on self-reported data from a telephone survey in which respondents might underreport weight. The combined effects of these two potential biases are uncertain. Finally, whether being overweight or obese is a risk factor for fatal drug poisoning or the result of greater use of these drugs by overweight persons cannot be determined from the data.

The Drug Enforcement Administration collects information regarding the movement of controlled substances from manufacture through commercial distribution channels by using the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS).5 From 1997 to 2002, the amount of drugs distributed to Utah and the United States (in grams per 100,000 population) increased substantially for several of the prescription drugs described in this report, including methadone (Utah: from 269 g to 1,703 g; United States: 194 g to 954 g), oxycodone (Utah: 1,848 g to 9,804 g; United States: 1,668 g to 8,056 g), and hydrocodone (Utah: 4,754 g to 8,122 g; United States: 3,249 g to 6,777 g). The numbers of drug-poisoning deaths attributed to each of these drugs increased at a greater rate than the supplies of the drugs in Utah. In addition, from 1997 to 2002, the codeine supply declined (Utah: from 7,746 g to 5,179 g; United States: 9,396 g to 8,149 g), possibly suggesting a prescription preference for newer pain-relieving drugs.

The sixfold increase in the methadone supply in Utah and fivefold increase in the United States were not the result of expansion of addiction treatment programs; ARCOS does not track drugs distributed through such programs. Methadone is also used to control pain and can be prescribed by physicians for pain management. Review of ME investigations into methadone deaths during 1996-2000 revealed previous methadone prescriptions for 48% (17 of 35) of decedents. A valid methadone prescription at time of death was found for 40% (14 of 35) of decedents. Of those with a valid prescription, seven (50%) were taking methadone for the first time (range: zero to 17 previous prescriptions) when they died.

Sources of decedents’ drugs cannot always be determined from ME data. The narcotics associated with a drug-poisoning death might have been prescribed for pain, acquired illegally, or (in the case of methadone) obtained from an addiction treatment program. Further research is needed to investigate the proportion of deaths that occurred among legitimate users of prescription medications, and to identify risk factors that might increase the likelihood of drug-poisoning deaths for patients using prescription medications. Other state health departments that track drug-poisoning deaths should conduct their own analyses of unintentional or undetermined drug-poisoning deaths caused by non-illicit drugs. Steps should be taken to ensure safe use of non-illicit, pain-relieving medications while more information regarding factors contributing to deaths is collected. Such steps should include increased education for both health-care providers and their patients.


1. CDC. Unintentional and undetermined poisoning deaths—11 states, 1990-2001. MMWR. 2004;53:233-238. MEDLINE
2. Utah Code and Constitution. Utah Health Code. Utah Medical Examiner Act. Title 26, Chapter 04; updated 2004. Available at http://www.le.state.ut.us/~code/title26/26_04.htm.
3. Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Utah Population Estimate Query System; 2004. Available at http://health.utah.gov/ibisq/population/entry.html.
4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 1998. NIH publication no. 98-4083.
5. US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System. Retail drug summary reports; 1997-2002. Available at http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/arcos/retail_drug_summary/index.html.

© 2005 JAMA & Archives. All Rights Reserved.


University Hospital Basel, Chemical Laboratory, Central Laboratory Department, Spitalstr.21, CH-4031 Basel

1 . Introduction

Substance abuse analytics has become a commonly used tool in drug abuse therapies, for intoxication testing in the clinical field, for preliminary forensic examinations (road accidents,criminal offences) and in various companies, where newly recruited staff, but also longserving employees whose work involves an above-average degree of risk are tested.

Various factors must be taken into account in the interpretation of the test results, including the objective of the test, e.g. medical diagnosis (substitution therapy, withdrawal therapy, differential diagnostics in emergency situations), legal aspects and social issues [1, 2].  Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that addicts who are in employment or are about to get a job, individuals in prison and persons, who have been banned from driving after having been found under the influence of a substance are determined to ensure that they pass their drugs test.  For this purpose there are a number of products available, which claim to eliminate traces
of drugs from the urine, or otherwise modify the urine so that certain substances are not detected.  In many cases, such attempted manipulation is unsuccessful, as these products work only for certain analytical methods, while being ineffective with others.  Many of the products have even no effect whatsoever on the test result, and their marketing is simply fraud.

On the other hand, the results of urine tests might be affected inadvertently and without any fraudulent intent.

Table 1 shows a number of products that, when consumed, might affect the results of urine tests.


Interferences in Drug of Abuse Immunoassays

--Interference after Therapeutic Intake of Drug
- (Neuroleptics, Antidepressants, Multivitamin Preparations) [3] 

-- Ailmental Influences
- (Poppy seeds, Liquid intake shortly before void of Urine)

- Urine Exchange (foreign Urine, artificial Urine etc.) [4]

- Deception: "Poppy seeds", Vitamines [5,41,43]

- Excessive Liquid intake, Stimulation of Diuresis [6,11]

- External Dilution of the Urine

- Chemical Manipulation (see manipulation methods)

- Adding drugs to the tube “falsely accusing”

*Scientific contribution of the Committee "Clinical Toxicology/Drugs of Abuse" of The International Association for Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology (IATDM-CT), edited by the committee chair Hans H. Mauer.

2.  One Hour Surfing The Internet

By surfing the Internet for only an hour, one comes across a number of sites giving detailed information on how to manipulate urine after the consumption of illicit drugs or alcohol, so that these substances are not detected with standard tests (based on immunoassays).

Such an internet search is even enlightening for persons who are specializing in urine testing for drugs.

The following examples show what inexperienced analysts are likely to overlook, unless they keep up to date with the latest manipulation methods.

A web site called "URINE LUCK" [7] promotes products and contains information, instructions and detailed descriptions on how urine test and manipulative pro-ducts work. On linked pages, visitors find articles covering all principal issues to be considered in order to successfully achieve a negative test result.

For analysts, it is sobering to learn from such information that manipulation is possible, and that the producers of products for this purpose are very well inform-ed about any aspect of the applied testing methods. The pages reveal details about which tests are most commonly used, how drug tests are carried out, and how labs attempt to detect manipulation.   They also provide tips on how to cover up attempts of tampering with the urine.

It becomes obvious from viewing this information that the people behind it are trained in the field, and must at some stage have passed their masters or doctorate exams. Specialists working in the field of drug testing and analytics and who try to carry out these tests properly and diligently (including examination re. potential tampering) might even lag a few steps behind their adversaries.  In the US, where testing for drugs is more common than everywhere else, some specialists fear that the field has become a stage for a showdown between chemists,namely those developing new manipulation products and methods, and those improving the test systems.

Chemists are caught up in a race: As soon as a new urine modifying product has been developed, labs are coming up with a respective detection kit, which in turn leads to the development of yet the next manipulation product.

The methods and products for the manipulation of urine tests are the product of highly creative thinking, and both sides (i.e. manipulator and analyst) might benefit by having a close look at what is going on from a medical-chemical point of view.  Analysts might also consider socio    economic aspects of the issue (e.g. are tests and analyses still useful, even if the costs of secondary analyses are extremely high). The interests of both the producers of manipulation pro-ducts and the manufacturers of analysis products for drug testing are primarily commercial.  This is most obvious from the fact that commercially run labor-atories carry out tens of thousands of drug test analyses every year, specializing in illicit drugs. The issue of drug abuse and testing is thus not only driven by social concerns. The products on offer on the internet, can be classified as shown in Table 2.

Not all of the information about manipulation methods found on the internet is correct. It is for example not possible to modify all drugs of abuse with pyrridinium chromates in order to get a negative result by the immunoassays or the confirmation analyses. Some of the products offered on web pages claim to detoxify the body [6,8,17], but are more likely to cause other medical problems (dehydration, vitamin overdose, damage from artificial not approved drinks, etc.).  Most manipulation substances are designed for addition to urine samples, as urine remains the most tested sample. On the other hand, it is less possible to interfere with other samples materials, such as blood, saliva or hair.

Table 2: Methods and substances of Manipulations, Interferences in Immunoassays [6,9-32,41,60]

Household Products are most used as specific adulteration for one special method, (old fashioned manipulation),[Literature 6,9 – 18]

Method or Substance -------- Frequency of use  -------------  Can be tested by -------   ________________________________________________________________________
----Urine Exchange              Frequently Used Today     Should be checked during void
                                                                                (related to chain of custody)

---External Urine Dilution                         ?                  Should be checked during void                                                                                 (related to chain of custody)

---Sodium Chloride                                                      Sodium or chloride analyses

---Bleaching Agent                Seldom                            pH, smell, color, ACR

---Drain Cleaner                    Seldom                            pH

---Detergents                        Seldom                           foaming, ACR, pH-

---Vinegar, Acid                   Seldom                           pH, ACR

--- Baking Soda                   Seldom                          pH, ACR

--- Ammonia                        Seldom                          pH, ACR-

---Visine, Coloring agents ®  Seldom                        Chromatography

Oral intake, not checkable during void of urine, [Literature8,11,14,15,41]

Method or Substance ---------- Frequency of use  ------------- Can be tested by __________________________________________________________________

- Golden Seal (Herbal tea)                       ?          Creatinine, spec.gravity, ACR

- Quick Caps (Herbal powder as              ?          Creatinine, spec.gravity, ACR

- Test Clean                                           ?         Creatinine, spec. gravity, ACR

- Zydot Ultimate Blend (liquid)                 ?         Creatinine, spec. gravity, ACR 

-Vitamins (Ascorbate, B2,B6)           Frequent   Color, ascorbic acid with pH,  Multivitaminepreparates)                                    chromatography, ACR  ___________________________________________________________________

-Dilution of urine by excessive     Most Frequent   Creatinine, spec. gravity  
fluid intake


Substitution and chemical adulteration of urine, in general checkable during void (C-O-C) Literature [6,14,15,18-32]___________________________________________________________________

Method or Substance ------------- Frequency of use  ------------ Can be tested by


Substitution of urine by solubilize      Seldom              Checking during void
a lyophilisated commercial urine
and filling in a sample container
e.g.void through artificial genitals)

Chromate, Pyridiniumchromates     ? (US more often) Colortest or AA for chromate

Peroxide und Peroxidases             Presumed: often     pH, ACR   

Glutaric aldehyde                          Seldom                 ACR

Nitrite                                          ?                           ACR

ACR = Adulteration screening reagents. (Stix or wet chemistry). AA = Atomic Absorption, C-O-C = Chain of custody

3. Urine manipulation - a serious problem [33]?

In order to assess the frequency of urine sample manipulations, let us have a look at the current fields of application of drug tests:

In the US and the UK, most drug test samples are gathered in workplace testing campaigns. In continental Europe, this type of testing is currently still of minor importance, with varying figures for the different countries. Only a few companies are using it, and, in general, only employees in high-risk workplaces are tested. Some European companies have introduced tests for new apprentices. Tests for illicit drugs and alcohol are also a standard method in addiction treatment and substitution programs. They are further used in forensics in relation to criminal offenses and road accidents [35]. Drugs of abuse testing in prisons, on parties, in volunteers before participating in payed pharmacokinetic studies and in special cases at psychiatric
patients and in cases of Munchhausen (by proxy).

In case of analyses carried [34] out in connection with criminal offenses or road safety, it is nearly impossible to adulterate the urine sample.  For drug addicts participating in withdrawal therapy, the high price of the manipulation products on offer  is certainly an obstacle. But even here, cases of manipulated urine were identified (resulting from curiosity or "of impers to surprise"). In the US, the frequency of such samples is approximately 2 to 5 per cent of all urine samples tested for drugs [56].

The only figures available for Europe originate in Germany and are based on estimates [36].  Here, the frequency varies between 2 per cent of samples taken from persons in drug substitution programs, to 50 per cent of all samples taken in relation to possible driving bans. For the US, see Quest drug testing index (60).

More reliable figures for European countries will only be available, when testing for manipulation becomes a standard procedure in the sample analysis. It will however not be easy to establish such an approach, as there are many different ways of manipulating a sample, as described above. Comprehensive testing is also very costly, and requires each sample to be analyzed for drugs and adulterants (by immunoassays and chromatography).

.4. Frequently used methods of analysis for the detection of illicit drugs [37]

As readers will be aware, most analytical screening methods in this field are based on the principle of antigen-antibody reactions known as immunoassays (immunochemical screening).

Adulterants which affect the proteins in general or the binding between antibody and antigens are adulterants to all immunoassays (strong acids,    bases etc.). Other adulterants like glutaraldehyde are used only to spoil one specific immunoassay (EMIT). A third category of adulterants belong to the class of acting on specific measuring systems influencing directly the tracer or the tracer determination (masking, destroying etc.). This three adulteration methods are adulterants for all substance analyses of one specific method or the immunoassay systems in general. Most of the old fashioned adulterating agents (Household products) belong to this category (changing pH, changing protein structure etc.).

The immunochemical methods available in the form of quick tests as in strips, tabs, etc. or automated assays for analyzers are prone to interference, due to the underlying method.  Chromatographic methods, which, from an analytical point of view, are the only methods capable of detecting specific substances with (generally) high sensitivity, are only used by a few, highly specialized laboratories. Accordingly, they are less likely to be tampered with.  As chromatographic methods are very expensive, most labs specializing in screening use immunochemical procedures. For forensic purposes and other samples taken in relation to a legal procedure, only the results of chromatographic analyses are accepted (this also applies to the confirmation analysis).

From an analytical point of view the question rises, is the result positive or negative?  Based only on the results of the analysis, is it possible to come to a final conclusion regarding existence of a substance in the sample (specificity, cross-reactivity in relation to immunochemical on-site tests and standard wet chemical quantitative methods, interpretation)?  The range of parameters is determined by the methods used in workplace testing in the US. These methods  include applications used in clinical-chemical and forensic laboratories, such as wet chemical, quantitative and automated procedures, as well as test strips and quick tests in general.  Tests can be classified into "broadband" tests for substance groups such as opiates or benzodiazepine on the one hand, and substance-specific tests for THC carboxylic acid,methadone, LSD, etc. on the other [1,2]

Often, the tests on offer are based on the mandatory SAMHSA (NIDA) test pro-grams, which primarily target amphetamines (methamphetamine), THC carboxylic acid (cannabinoids), benzoylecgonine (cocaine), opiates and phencyclidine (PCP).  The test for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, LSD, methadone and tricyclic antidepressants are mainly designed for special cases such as compliance and intoxication testing.

One disadvantage of quick tests is their fixed cut off value, leaving no leeway for interpretation of the results. Also, there are no quantitative test results available for progress tests (i.e.assessment of renewed consumption, e.g. of cannabis [44,45]). For this type of examination, immunochemical methods that can be run automatically on analyzers are with some exceptions more suitable. Progress tests always include the analysis of creatinine, leading to higher expenses.

5. Manipulation Methods [6,9-32]

It is the primary objective of any manipulation to generate test results consistent with drug abstinence. There were few cases where the manipulation was aimed at producing a positive test result. This occurred in the context of forensic examinations (diminished responsibility) or compliance screening in therapies (Methadone). The most common and extensively documented method of manipulation the dilution of the urine [6,11,39,40] is only successful in connection with THC carboxylic acid testing, producing an incorrect negative result. Other parameters are only affected, if the concentration of the queried substance is near the cutoff point, which generally means that the drug was consumed some time ago [8,16,17,41].

More sophisticated methods of dilution include the consumption of diuretics combined with vitamins and creatine (to simulate a normal creatinine concentration only successful if enzymatic creatinine determination is used), in the form of infusions. The effect is however often overstated. Vitamins can however mask certain tests, due to their colour, leading to nonmeasurable analysis or inadvertent incorrect positive results [8,41].

"UrinAid“ (Glutaraldehyde) [30]

Glutaraldehyde is an agent that was originally used to adulterate the Syva EMIT II test (concentration dependent). The effect on other tests is shown in figure 1. (in Europe not often used). Glutaraldehyde can be detected with Dip Stick or wet chemistry methods.

Oxidizing Agents

The intention of using oxidizing adulterants mostly is to pass the confirmation tests for THCcarboxylic acid (beating the drug and or the internal standard). Opiates and very seldom the cocain metabolite benzoylecgonine are the subjects of these adultertions in a lesser extent. Most of these adulterants (Class of oxidants) are commercially available through the internet.

One of the recently detected adulterant is iodine which acts similar to chromate and peroxidase as oxidant [42].


 Acids    ----- down/down   down/up down/up
Basesdown/downdown/downdown/down -----
Bleaching Agentdown/downdown/downdown/updown/up
Salts ------ down/downdown/downdown/up
  downdowndown down



Figure 1: Immunoassays: Effect of different manipulation substances/methods. up/down
= Differ from one substance assay to another.*
 In confirmation analyses nitrite often influences the internal standard used for GC/MS analyses.¯­ = Differ from one substance.

"Urine Clear"

Literature [23,24,25,26,27] describes the results of manipulation with nitrite in solution in an attempt to prevent the detection of THC-carboxylic acid. In one paper THC acid "cannabispositive" urine samples were tested in replicates for several days on THC-carboxylic acid (after the addition of 2500 mg/l nitrite, with or without acidification). Under acidic conditions, THC-carboxylic acid cannot be detected by several immunoassays after a short period of time. and never by chromatographic methods [25].

After alkalization of the urine sample, the chromatographic methods will detect THC-COOH (affected is the internal standard). Other drugs are not affected by Nitrite.

"Stealth“ (Peroxide/Peroxidase)

Agents containing peroxides in connection with peroxidases are adulterants which have to be added to urine after void (e.g. this is also the case for glutaraldehyde, oxidizing agents, etc.)  Therefore these products are not easy to use, if the period of void is watched. This agents change the structure of THC-COOH, LSD and morphine [8,20,21,22,51]. These drugs are masked and can not be detected nor by immunoassays neither by chromatography (dependent on the the peroxide and peroxidase concentration). This type of manipulation can be detected by several Dip Sticks and wet chemistry tests (detection is dependent on the time lag between
addition of agent and testing for the adulteration).

“Urin Luck” (Chromate, pyridinium chromate)

This agent is based on pyridinium chromate and the action is comparable with that of peroxides/peroxidases. Chromate is an oxidant and acts as a adulterant on several ways. As an example the response rates of all EMIT drug assays are decreased [29]. This is an action on whole assay system (pyridinium or chromate or both?). Most of the THC-carboxylic acid and opiate assays are affected, dependent on the chromate concentration. The results will appear as negative. The detection of this adulterants is possible by Dip Sticks, wet chemistry tests, chromium determination by Atomic Absorption and pyridinium by chromatogra- phy.  This manipulation is however easily exposed by means of specially designed test strips.

6. Definition Of Manipulation

Table 3, the definitions of SAMHSA (NIDA) have been summarized: (These definitions
are also recommended by the Swiss working group on drugs of abuse) [1,2,38].

Table 3: SAMHSA (NIDA) definitions. Definitions in Europe mmol/l, by the US-Government SAMHSA in (mg/dl):


- Creatinine <2 mmol/l (10 mg/dl) but >0,45 mmol/l (5,0 mg/dl)

- Specific gravity £􀀀�1.003 kg/l, but 13 April 2004, 69 (71): 19644-19673.³ 1.001 kg/l Changes in SAMHSA US Federal Register,


- No regular components of human urine contained

- Creatinine concentration £􀀀�0.16 mmol/l (2 mg/dl) and specific gravity £1.001

- Density £􀀀�1.001 kg/l or ³ 1.020 kg/l


- pH-value £ 3 or ³ 11

- Nitrite concentration over 500 g/ml-

-Evidence of exogenous and endogenous substance out of the range


SAMHSA=Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (formerly NIDA), NIDA=National Institute Of Drug Affairs 

The previously discussed attempts of manipulation are mainly targeted at immuno-chemical  methods. Most common is probably excessive liquid consumption to try to dilute the urine. In this respect, it must be taken into account that urine samples taken in the evening may show creatinine concentrations close to the limit value of 1.8 mmol/l (20 mg/dl). In drug screening, urine with creatinine concentrations below this value are considered.

7. Accidental interference (Definition) [3,46,58]

Less well known is the issue of cross-reactivity with prescribed medicaments in immunochemical tests.  Such interference often only comes to light in confirmation analyses. The results for opiates analyses from different manufacturers are known to be affected by neuroleptics dependent on the substance and their concentrations.The effect of specific drugs (generally non-steroid analgesics) on various test methods (i.e. various parameters and/or different test products) has to be considered because of the wide-spread use of these drugs.

Pathological biochemical pathways related to metabolic diseases can produce substances which are eliminated in urine and lead to false negative drug tests in urine [59]. Incorrect positive results (to a lesser extent: incorrect negative results) of unspecific tests often lead to considerable extra costs for retesting. We est-imate that approximately 1 to 4 per cent of the routine screening analyses with immunoassays lead to such incorrect positive results [inhouse studies, 3]. (Wet chemical tests or spot tests).

8. Detection Of Manipulation [4,43,47- 55]

As described above, common manipulations (like dilution) can only be reliably detected by carrying out additional analyses for creatinine in urine, specific gravity and pH, and assessment of the urine colour.

If specific substances, as available on the internet, are used, which destroy the actual drug inthe urine, mask the test or directly influence a specific, generally known test method, it can be very difficult to prove that manipulation took place.

Even the test strips designed to detect manipulations are not beyond all doubt. If manipulation is suspected, supervision during void is important, as it generally makes the addition of any interfering substance impossible.

In the case of a positive test result for opiates, where the person in question claims that this is due to the consumption of poppy seed cake or poppy seed bread [5,43], it is very difficult to prove otherwise, as morphine is actually re leased when these foods are consumed. The opiate content of poppy seed varies greatly (depending on the actual harvest). The highest measured concentration in our experience is 4500 ng/ml (cutoff according to Swiss Working Group for Drugs of Abuse Testing Guidelines AGSA: 300 ng/ml).

According to the literature, thebaine is the only potential poppy seed marker (accurate when positive, but not otherwise).

The identification of a urine, supposed to be substituted, is possible by DNA analyses comparison in blood versus the urine test. Confirmation of specific human proteins by immunoassay analyses helps to confirm the existence of a human urine. Other proposals to prevent substitution “are based on use of marker substances like polythylenglycols. These substances have to be given under control about half an hour before void of urine. The substances are analyzed in urine by chromatography (HPLC) [57].

All these tests are expensive and some are also time consuming.

The costs for the detection of urine that has been manipulated with any of the commercially available additives, after automated wet chemical analysis or quick test lead to considerably increased prices for analysis, depending on the assessed parameters (additional approx. 50 to 100 per cent of the total analysis costs). In certain countries, such as Switzerland, some of the additional analyses cannot be charged to the client.

Prior to introducing a program for the manipulation testing, the expected frequency of attempted manipulations and the related consequences must be examined in detail. Depending on the nature of the testing body (forensic laboratory, substitution therapy center, employer, training facility), the share of manipulated samples is often below one per cent.


In conclusion immunoassays can be easily automated and adapted to equip-ment but are very delicate to interferences and adulterants can produce a lot of extra work and expenses.  Adulterants are used in most cases to produce false negative screening tests. They can be used as specific adulterants for a sub-stance (THC-carboxylic acid), a test method or the immunoassays in general. Unexpected positive results are often produced through prescribed drugs, vitamines etc. This effects produce costs because of additional confirmation testing and the search for interfering substances.

In the future methods for testing drugs of abuse should be developed which are more resistant to interferences and adulterants. Perhaps toxicologists should reflect about the existing cutoff systems which often lead to critical situations. Last but not least, manipulation is a problem, but one should not overestimate the frequency of the cases.


1 AGSA, Swiss Working Group for Drugs of Abuse Testing Guidelines, www.consilia-sa.ch/agsa/

2 SAMHSA Guidelines, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


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