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General Questions

Check out our most commonly asked questions

Don’t see a particular question on our list?

Feel free to email us at info@spectrummdx.com or call our support line at 1-905-970-9777 or 1-866-287-2425.

We have become a recognized and reliable partner for high quality products, technologies and services. Our product and service portfolio offers more than 50 products—we strive to provide the highest quality diagnostic products in an ever changing healthcare market. All rapid POCT products are Health Canada licensed, and Spectrum MDX complies with all Health Canada regulations.

Our mission is to offer leading-edge, market specific screening technologies to various industries across Canada. Through treatment prevention services and education, we are committed to enhancing patient treatment and diagnosis for substance abuse in Canada. We are passionate about making a valuable contribution to Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy – one step at a time…

Partnering with us means receiving comprehensive solutions with access to a broad product menu designed to suit any screening program. Our goal is to translate technology into sustainable, healthy, and safe solutions that accelerate patient treatment & diagnosis, and help enhance clinical practices for better health outcomes. We are committed to fulfilling our part by offering excellence and integrity in all that we do.

Our brand exemplifies customer service. We attribute our success to maintaining a high standard of customer service and professionalism, and a passion for understanding industry trends.

We align our reputation and resources with QUALITY North American-made products.

Any product that is designed for use on humans requires special licensing from Health Canada. Rapid drug screening products are classified as Class II and III medical devices with Health Canada, and specific regulations and procedures apply for each license category to ensure safety for patients.

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A Medical Device Establishment Licence is separate from a Medical Device Licence and is issued for the activities of importing and selling medical devices for human use in Canada. An MDEL is issued by the Inspectorate based on an establishment certifying that they meet certain requirements and are then inspected for compliance. A company that imports or sells medical devices in Canada requires an establishment license.

Results can be obtained as soon as a 2-3 minutes, but the optimal reading time in most rapid drug screens is 5 minutes.

Yes, we can fully customize your panel to include lower cut-off levels, adulteration tests, specialty tests such as Fentanyl, K2, Ketamine, Alcohol and much more. Please contact us today to explore your options.

Confirmatory tests are used for further analysis of a sample — to confirm a presumptive positive result and typically are done using gas chromatography/Mass Spectometry (GC/MS) or high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Confirmatory screening can identify a specific drug with concentrations.

Yes, but after some time, the drug compound in the specimen will begin to break down or metabolize. Specimens stored in a refrigerator will be stable for approximately 24 hours, and those stored in the freezer will be stable for 24-72 hours. It is strongly recommended that urine specimens be brought up to room temperature prior to performing a drug screen.

No, these tests are not for resale to the public. Our products are only designed for professional use.

Our products are 98-99% accurate in comparison to laboratory tests. The same chemistry and technology is used to manufacture rapid POCT tests.

Many variables may affect the amount of time that a drug remains detectable in the urine or other biological samples, including a drug’s half-life, the subject’s state of hydration and fluid balance, frequency of use, route of administration, cut-off concentration used by the testing lab to detect the drug, and many other variables. General guidelines are available for detection times. Many drugs stay in the system from 2 to 4 days, although chronic use of marijuana can stay in the system for 3 to 4 weeks or even longer after the last use. Drugs with a long half-life, such as diazepam, may also stay in the system for a prolonged period of time. Drugs can be detected in hair samples up to six months, although urine samples are used for most workplace drug screening tests. Examples of drugs that can be detected in hair-testing include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines.

Alcohol: Alcohol, while a legal drug, is often abused and habitual use can lead to addiction and significant physical and psychological health problems. Alcohol is rapidly metabolized by the liver into its principle chemical components including carbon dioxide and sugars. Alcohol is within the family of depressant drugs with symptoms including slurred speech, loss of motor coordination and impaired judgement. Alcohol is consumed primarily for its psychotic effects which include a loss of inhibitions and euphoria. Alcohol can only be detected through testing for a relatively short period due to its rapid metabolization and elimination. Generally, detectable levels of alcohol intoxication are gone within 6-8 hours. Consequently all alcohol tests must be performed during or shortly after consumption.

Amphetamine: (AMP) Amphetamines are central nervous stimulants whose effects include alertness, wakefulness, increased energy, reduced hunger and an overall feeling of well-being. Large doses and long term usage can result in higher tolerance levels and dependence. The most common source for amphetamine are the prescription diet pills (Phentermine).

Benzodiazepines: (BZO) Also classified as depressants, benzodiazepines are used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms and to prevent seizures. In general, benzodiazepines act as hypnotics in high doses, as anxiolytics in moderate doses and as sedatives in low doses. Like the barbiturates, benzodiazepines differ from one another in how fast they take effect and how long the effects last. Shorter acting benzodiazepines, used to manage insomnia, include estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion). Benzodiazepines with longer durations of action include alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), halazepam (Paxipam), lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Serax) and prazepam (Centrax). Abuse of Benzodiazepines occurs primarily because of the “high” which replicates alcohol intoxication. Approximately 50 percent of people entering treatment for narcotic or cocaine addiction also report abusing benzodiazepines.

Cocaine: (COC) Cocaine is made from coca leaves. Its effects include alertness, wakefulness, increased energy and an overall feeling of euphoria. Cocaine may be smoked, inhaled (“snorted”) or injected. Cocaine can be a very addictive drug. Cocaine is metabolized by the body into the chemical compound Benzoylecgonine.

EDDP (Methadone metabolite): EDDP is the most important metabolite of methadone. It is excreted in the bile and urine together with the other metabolite EMPD. EDDP is formed by N-demthylation and cyclisation of methadone in the liver. The part of the unchanged excreted methadone is variable and depends on the urine’s pH value, dose, and the patient’s metabolism. Therefore, detection of the metabolite EDDP instead of methadone itself is useful because interferences of the patient’s metabolism are avoided. EDDP can be detected within 4 to 6 hours after use. It can be cleared by the body within 2 to 3 days after use.

Fentanyl: Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine. It is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat people with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to opiates. It is a schedule II prescription drug.

MDMA (Ecstasy): (MDMA) Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy) is a designer drug first synthesized in 1913 by a German drug company for the treatment of obesity. Those who take the drug frequently report adverse effects, such as increased muscle tension and sweating. MDMA is not clearly a stimulant, although it has, in common with amphetamine drugs, a capacity to increase blood pressure and heart rate. MDMA does produce some perceptual changes in the form of increased sensitivity to light, difficulty in focusing, and blurred vision in some users. Its mechanism of action is thought to be via release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. MDMA may also release dopamine, although the general opinion is that this is a secondary effect of the drug. The most pervasive effect of MDMA, occurring in almost all people who have taken a reasonable dose of the drug, is to produce a clenching of the jaws. Symptomatic and biological responses to MDMA are similar to those produced by methamphetamine.

Methadone: (MTD) Although chemically unlike morphine or heroin, methadone produces many of the same effects. Methadone is primarily used today for the treatment of narcotic addiction. The effects of methadone are longer-lasting than those of morphine-based drugs. Methadone’s effects can last up to 24 hours, thereby permitting administration only once a day in heroin detoxification and maintenance programs. Ironically, methadone, used to control narcotic addiction, is a frequently abused narcotic, often encountered on the illicit market and methadone has been associated with a number of overdose deaths.

Methamphetamine: (MET or M-AMP) Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug which is quickly metabolized to amphetamine. It is used in pill form, or in powdered form by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine is inhaled by smoking and is a considerably more powerful form of the drug. Some of the effects of methamphetamine use include: increased heart rate, wakefulness, physical activity and decreased appetite. Methamphetamine use can cause irreversible damage to the brain, producing strokes and convulsions, which can lead to death. Ecstasy, a new trendy and popular drug among teenagers is a refined and processed form of methamphetamine.

Opiates: (OPI) Opiates are any of the addictive narcotic drugs derived from the resin of the poppy plant. Opiates are analgesics (pain reducers) which work by depressing the central nervous system. They can also depress the respiratory system. Doctors often prescribe them for severe or chronic pain. Opiates are very addictive, both physically and psychologically. Use for only a short time normally results in addiction. Some commonly used opiates are: Codeine, Darvon, Heroin, Methadone, Morphine, Opium, Percodan, Talwin, Dilaudid and Demerol. Opiates are commonly referred to as “downers”. Opiates can appear in many forms: white powder or crystals; small white, yellow or orange pills; large colorful capsules; clear liquid and dark brown, sticky bars or balls. Heroin accounts for the majority of the illicit opiate abuse. Some physical indications of opiate use include: extreme loss of appetite and weight, needle tracks or punctures, black and blue marks from “skin popping”, scars along veins, cramps, nausea, vomiting, excessive scratching and complaint of itching, excessive sweating, constipation, raw, red nostrils from snorting, runny nose, pin-point pupils and watery eyes, reduced vision, drowsiness, euphoria, trance-like states, excessive thirst, tremors, twitching, unkempt appearance, strong body odor, irritability, chills; slight hallucinations and lethargy. Opiates reduce attention span, sensory and motor abilities, produce irrational behavior, depression, paranoia, and other psychological abnormalities.

Oxycodone: (OXY) Pharmaceutical drugs Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, Oxycontin. While classified as an Opiate, the chemical structure and metabolite of Oxycodone requires a separate Opiate test with a substantially higher sensitivity detection level than that of the standard Opiate drug test. Consequently, a positive test result will not only confirm Oxycodone but other opiates as well. In this regard the xycodone test is not Oxycodone specific but opiate specific being able to detect Oxycodone/opiate use at the higher sensitivity level required while the 2000 ng/ml sensitivity level of the standard opiate test would not detect Oxycodone. Oxycodone is generally prescribed in oral pill form with the analgesic buffer Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, 4′-hydroxyacetanilide, is a non-opiate, non-salicylate analgesic and antipyretic which occurs as a white, odorless, crystalline powder, possessing a slightly bitter taste.Its molecular formula is C8H9NO2. The molecular weight is 151.17. The Oxycodone component is 14-hydroxydihydrocodeinone, a white, odorless, crystalline powder having a saline, bitter taste. It is derived from the opium alkaloid thebaine. Its molecular formula is C18H21NO4·HCl. The molecular weight is 351.83.

Phencyclidine: (PCP) Phencyclidine hydrochloride (or PCP), also know as “angel dust,” is a hallucinogen. PCP is commonly taken orally, by inhalation, by “snorting” or by injection. The effects of this drug are unpredictable and variable. Users may exhibit signs of euphoria, anxiety, relaxation, increased strength, time / space distortions, panic or hallucination. PCP use can lead to paranoia and extreme irrational behavior. Once popular, PCP use has declined dramatically in recent years and is no longer considered a major drug of abuse.

THC (marijuana): (THC) Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) is an active component in marijuana. Marijuana, a hallucinogen, is commonly ingested by smoking, but it may also be eaten. Marijuana may impair learning and coordination abilities. Marijuana is most commonly the drug of choice among teenagers and young adults. The hallucinogenic effect of Marijuana can lead to irrational behavior, disorientation, and paranoia. Low concentrations of THC persists in urine at a detectable concentration for many days after smoking. Marijuana is the most common recreational drug of abuse.

More Substance Abuse Drugs  

No. Drug of abuse testing by blood, urine, or saliva can only detect whether or not a specific drug or drug metabolite is present at the time the test is performed. While there are very broad estimates (see chart above) as to how long a particular drug may have been in the system, no fluid based drug test, regardless of method, is intended to include a time variable. Many factors unique to the individual being tested determine the actual half-life of the particular drug including such variables as age, weight, sex, metabolic rate, overall health, amount of drug consumed over what period of time, etc. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn as to when a particular drug was taken or how much was consumed with these types of drug of abuse tests.

There are literally hundreds of brand name and generic drugs being prescribed today. If you have a question on a specific prescribed medication, you will need to know the general classification of that medication to determine if it will test positive on any of the specific drug test panels, ie: opiates, amphetamine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, barbiturates etc. For general classifications on prescription drugs please consult with your pharmacist. A detailed cross-reactivity chart will be outlined in the product insert, or you can contact a sales representative to obtain more information.

The most common method of sample manipulation to avoid a positive drug screen is dilution. Other forms of sample adulteration are the in vitro addition of adulterants or additives into the specimen sample to destroy the chemical reaction properties of lateral flow, point of use, drug tests. Common practice is to pre-test the sample for dilution or adulteration using a sample validity test.

Creatinine is a waste product of creatine; an amino acid contained in muscle tissue and found in urine. A person may attempt to foil a drug test by drinking excessive amounts of water or diuretics such as herbal teas to “flush” the system. Creatinine and specific gravity are two ways to check for dilution and flushing, which are the most common mechanisms used in an attempt to circumvent drug testing. Low creatinine and specific gravity levels may indicate diluted urine. The absence of creatinine (<5mg/dl) is indicative of a specimen not consistent with human urine.

Specific gravity tests for sample dilution. The normal range for specific gravity is from 1.003 to 1.030. Values outside this range generally indicate specimen dilution or adulteration.

Nitrite tests for commonly used commercial adulterants such as “Klear” or “Whizzies”. They work by oxidizing the major cannabinoid (marijuana) metabolite THC COOH². Normal urine should contain no trace of nitrites. Positive results generally indicate the presence of an adulterant.

Glutaraldehyde tests for the presence of an aldehyde. Adulterants such as “UrinAid” and “Clear Choice” contain glutaraldehyde which may cause false negative screening results by disrupting the enzyme used in some immunoassay tests. Glutaraldehyde is not normally found in human urine; therefore, detection of glutaraldehyde in a urine specimen is generally an indicator of adulteration.

pH tests for the presence of acidic or alkaline adulterants in urine. Normal pH levels should be in the range of 4.0 to 9.0. Values outside of this range may indicate the sample has been altered.

Oxidants/PCC (Pyridinium Chlorochromate) tests for the presence of oxidizing agents such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Pyridinium chlorochromate (sold under the brand name “UrineLuck”) is a commonly used adulterant. Normal human urine should not contain oxidants or PCC.

Yes, that can dilute the urine and affect the outcome of the test. We can help by providing you with adulteration tests to ensure that the client/patient is not trying to cheat their tests.

Oxycodone (Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, Oxycontin) are synthetically manufactured opiates meaning they are not directly refined from the opium poppy resin source. While the chemical chains are similar, detection of synthetic opiate drugs requires a lower sensitivity detection level than that established for non-synthetic opiates.

Ecstasy (MDMA) has recently become a popular recreational drug among teenagers and young adults. Ecstasy is refined processed form of amphetamine with a chemical structure closely resembling methamphetamine. Any test with a target screen for methamphetamine should detect Ecstasy although a MDMA specific screen in preferred.

Any very faint line on the test region could indicate that the drug in the sample could be near the cut-off level for the test. However, any line in the test area, no matter how faint, should be interpreted as a negative test. Perform a second test or send the specimen to a laboratory to obtain quantitative results. For initial screening purposes, a faint line in the test area should always be interpreted as a negative test.

Urine drug testing is highly accurate, reliable, and the most commonly used method to detect the presence of drugs. Oral fluid drug testing measures drug levels in a donor’s saliva. This form of testing continues to grow in popularity and acceptance because:

•Simple collection procedure: Fast, easy and safe specimen collection that is non-invasive

* Lower chance of adullteration compared with urine screening

•* Drug concentrations similar to those of blood

* More sanitary compared to urine specimen handling

* Useful in the detection of recent drug use (up to24 hours)

* Ideal for all screening programs, especially those designed for safety sensitive positions

* Urine alcohol: Parent & Etg metabolite tests

* Saliva alcohol

* Breath alcohol (including breathalyzers)

DOT approved alcohol tests (such as AlcoScreen 02) have been tested and approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for required testing of all transportation and safety sensitive employees for blood alcohol concentrations above the federally mandated zero tolerance level of 0.02%.