Legal, workplace, and treatment drug testing with alternate biological matrices on a global scale

Edward J. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Global trends in drug trafficking and drug usage patterns indicate a continuing pattern of escalation throughout the world. Over the last two decades, urinalysis has evolved into a highly accurate means for determining whether individuals have been exposed to illicit drugs of abuse. Advances have also been made in the use of alternate biological matrices such as hair, oral fluids and sweat for drug testing. Often, these new matrices demonstrate some distinct advantages over urinalysis, e.g. less invasive procedures, different time course of drug detection. They may even indicate impairment. National and local laws of each country provide the underpinnings of drug-testing programs, but most countries have not addressed use of these alternate matrices. Currently, only a few countries have statutes that specifically mention use of alternate biological matrices, e.g. United States (Florida state law), Germany, Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic. Conversely, few countries have prohibited collection of alternate biological specimens or drug test devices that utilize such specimens. In addition, guidelines for implementing drug testing programs have been slow to emerge and most deal primarily with workplace drug testing programs, e.g. United States. Currently, scientific technology utilized in drug testing is advancing rapidly, but there is a clear need for parallel development of guidelines governing the use of alternate matrices for drug testing. This article provides an overview of global drug trafficking patterns and drug use, and results from a survey of legal statutes in 20 countries covering use of alternate matrices for drug testing. In addition, elements needed for the development of guidelines for alternate matrices testing for drugs of abuse are discussed, and specific examples of use of alternate matrices in treatment monitoring are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2001


  • Alternate matrices
  • Drug testing
  • Guidelines
  • Hair
  • Illicit drugs
  • Oral fluid
  • Prevalence
  • Saliva
  • Sweat
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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