Safework Laboratories has responded to the increase in synthetic or fake urine detection in our laboratories.
At the moment it is a very small percentage of our overall laboratory workload, but the numbers are rising.
We launched two innovative strategies nationwide to combat these attempts at cheating:
- Enhanced detection technology in the laboratory
- Enhanced screening technology, which we now utilise for all collections in our premises Australia-wide. This option is also available for all our existing customers.
Several years ago, we highlighted the issue of fake urine detection in onsite workplace drug testing.
Here’s part of what SafeWork Laboratories had to say then:
“October saw an unprecedented number of detections in our Perth Laboratory of urine that was not from a biological source. Our normal rate of detection is fairly low (although never zero).
But last month we positively identified more than 5 times our usual monthly average of various formulations of synthetic urine in our Workplace Testing samples.
The fake urine samples came from mining clients in the Pilbara to construction clients in metropolitan Perth.”
The Legitimacy of Fake Urine
Synthetic urine does have a legitimate use. It is primarily for laboratory calibration of urine testing equipment and also for the assessment of urine leakage of urine collection devices and nappies.
The sale and purchase of fake urine does not appear to contravene any State or Federal law. We are able to identify fake urine in the laboratory by looking for a range of other biological compounds that are present in normal urine but not in the synthetic versions.
It is important to note that all of the fake urine detected last month passed the currently available on-site testing methods. The typical tests measuring creatinine, pH and specific gravity all showed normal results for these samples.
SafeWork Laboratories: Screening for Synthetic Urine
All of this got us to thinking through – how good are our current detection methods? And how does our approach stand up to the best practice we utilise here in Australia and overseas?
We knew most synthetic urine would pass the relatively simple tests used on site. But even our much more sophisticated testing in the laboratory did not detect as many of the new brands as we hoped (see the chart below).
So our team of experienced Scientists, together with our medical staff were determined to update our detection strategies. We now utilise a further range of biological markers present in human urine and not the synthetic version.
We have been applying this automatically to all collects performed on our premises Australia wide for quite some time now.
For obvious reasons, we don’t want to give details of which brands worked and which were not detected.
However, we examined most of the following list of commercially available synthetic urines:
- QuickFixPlus (ver 6)
- Monkey Whizz
- ScreenyWeeny (ver 3.0)
- QuickFix (ver 3)
- Agent X (Dr. Green)
- CleanUrin (CleanU Co.)
- QuickFix (ver 4)
- UltraPure TestClear Powdered Urine
- Magnum Detox (KPRC2)
- ScreenyWeeny (ver 4.0)
Our team also came up with the chart below.
A green tick means it will be detected as a fake and reported as such. A red cross means it would typically pass undetected.
As far as we know, this is the most advanced screening technique for synthetic urine in Australia. In fact, many laboratories offer little more than the minimum required by AS4308, which is closer to the basic screen outlined above.
With that being said, we also acknowledge that this is an ever-evolving field. And that even with our latest update, it appears that Brand L may pass undetected. Therefore, we will steadfastly continue to evolve and progress our detection techniques in the coming months.
SafeWork Laboratories Utilises “Advanced Screen” on All Pre-Booked or Walk-In Drug Screenings
Finally, as part of our service offering, and to ensure we remain at the cutting edge of innovation and best practice in Drug testing in Australia, we are going to use the “Advanced Screen” on all pre-booked or walk-in drug screens.
Especially since pre-booked tests are particularly vulnerable to “cheating” attempts since individuals can have several days notice to consider implementing confounding strategies.
The “Advanced Screen” is also another option for your regular or routine laboratory confirmations. Please ask us for details.
Q: How big a problem is fake urine detection in Australia?
A: So far, quite rare. But the table above shows that most labs won’t detect it at present. Therefore, the real prevalence is hard to know. However, Safework Laboratories has seen a steady increase across the past 12 months or so, albeit from a very small base.
Q: Can I have all of my samples sent to your lab for fake urine detection?
A: Yes, although there is a small cost implication. It’s unlikely to be routinely warranted given the very low detection rate currently. A number of clients do request that 10% of all samples get the Advanced Screening option, or that particular “mass tests” will have it applied to all.
Q: Is this an argument for Oral Fluid or saliva testing then?
A: There are pros and cons for both types of tests. We are also looking at some chewing gums and mouthwashes used prior to oral fluid testing which appear to be effective in reducing the chances of a positive test result in Oral Fluid. So the same issues apply to both testing types.