Leak Proof

Thanks to a new over-the-counter test kit, the war on drugs can now be waged in the privacy of one's home.

In October, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for U.S. sales of QuickScreen, the first test for illegal drugs available to consumers. Created by Phamatech, a company that develops a variety of clinical home test kits, QuickScreen costs about $30 and comes in two models. One looks for evidence of cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamine, and phencyclidine (PCP) use. The other detects cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamine, and methamphetamine. QuickScreen works similarly to home pregnancy tests: A test strip inserted in a urine sample can tell within 10 minutes whether traces of any drugs are present.

Parents or educators who suspect their children or students are under the influence are expected to make up the bulk of QuickScreen consumers, says a company spokeswoman. But results indicating drug use need to be sent to a designated lab for confirmation and analysis. Because some foods and legal medicines will cause positive drug test results, worried parents may not know right away whether their kids are snorting coke, taking the occasional puff of marijuana, or merely fond of poppy seed bagels. And the FDA warns that people can test positive for marijuana if they have been around heavy marijuana smoke--even if, like our president, they never inhaled.

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