What Drug Testing Providers Should Know About The Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis, some say, is just beginning. In just a fifteen-month period between 2016 and 2017, emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses surged nearly 30%. Over 11 million Americans admittedly misused pain medication in 2016, and there are currently over 230,000,000 active opioid prescriptions in the United States.

Drug testing providers today face unique challenges when it comes to effectively detecting and reporting inappropriate drug use. Opioids are notoriously difficult to parse out using traditional drug testing methods, and abusers’ circumvention methods become more sophisticated every month.




Standard Panel Testing Is Not Enough

Gone are the days in which five-panel urine tests did a thorough enough job of determining whether or not someone was abusing drugs.

Today’s drug user is smart, employing various techniques to “trick” standard urine tests; they’re also likely to be using drugs of abuse such as fentanyl, morphine, codeine, and other opiates that are difficult to separate using standard panel testing.

In some circumstances, such as when a patient hasn’t been prescribed opiates, the presence of any opiate in a drug test is enough to sound alarm bells. In other scenarios, such as when a person who’s been taking prescribed pain medication for years starts supplementing those opiates with synthetic opiates bought on the street, specific testing is critical for identifying the problem.


Point-of-Care Providers are the at the Forefront

Over two-million opiate-dependent people in the United States are addicted to legal prescription medications, not illicit drugs like heroin. With over 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, the number of pain relievers prescribed is not likely to go down any time soon. Point-of-care providers today find themselves at the gateway between responsible drug therapy and addiction. Effective testing within these facilities is paramount; identifying risky behavior and stemming the flow of legally-prescribed opiates to those showing signs of addiction are two of the only ways to make an impact on rampant opioid abuse.

Drug testing within pain management practices and at other point-of-care facilities is innovating quickly in an attempt to keep up with abuse trends. Infrared spectrometry, for example, is increasingly being used alongside deep-dive testing methods such as mass spectrometry to give care providers a clearer picture of which opiates patients are taking, and how much. Understanding the scope of use gives practitioners more power when it comes to selecting medications, referring alternative treatments, and even withdrawing prescriptions altogether.


The IMCS Solution

Thankfully, drug testing providers have more tools at their disposal than at any point in history. IMCSzyme, a breakthrough product from IMCS, is a genetically modified beta-glucuronidase that hydrolyzes multiple drug classes – including many common opiates – quickly and completely. In less than fifteen minutes, IMCSzyme can reach recovery hydrolysis for a plethora of drugs of abuse including benzodiazepine, Morphine-3, temazepam, Codeine-6, and many others.

Reducing the incubation period for drug testing samples streamlines the process of testing itself. It allows pain care providers to more accurately and efficiently determine which substances subjects are taking, and whether or not those substances raise concerns for addiction.


IMCSzyme is a product every forward-thinking drug testing laboratory needs to fight the growing opioid crisis. Reach out to the IMCS team today to learn more.