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CU Anschutz Medical Campus Enterprise launches drug test to detect polypharmacy

January 7, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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As new drugs and variations make their way into the hands of users, experts are constantly working to come up with new ways to test for these drugs. Recently, a new drug test has been developed by CU Toxicology, a newly launched enterprise of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology. This non-profit laboratory on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., has developed a highly sensitive urine drug testing technology that reportedly reveals greater than five times more drug use than other urine drug screens on the market.

“Polypharmacy, or the use of multiple drugs at once, is the newest American epidemic; more than one in five U.S. citizens are using three or more prescription drugs, and more than one in 10 are using five or more,” said Jeffrey Galinkin, MD, chief medical officer of CU Toxicology and professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Combine that with the fact that drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990, and it’s clear the industry is in crisis and desperately needs a more comprehensive urine drug test, like CU Toxicology’s, to get a true picture of the issues.”

CU Toxicology’s complete drug discovery technology identifies and confirms more than 500 prescription, illicit and over-the-counter drugs in one test, giving treatment professionals a more complete picture of their patients’ polypharmacy or multiple drug use. In addition, the highly sensitive test catches drug use that slips under the radar in industry standard drug screens, which typically identify between six and 19 drug classes and require treatment professionals to request a second step to confirm results.

“Until this point, treatment professionals have treated the trunk without knowing that they’re looking at an elephant,” said Dr. Galinkin. “Industry standard drug screens only catch a fraction of the drugs that are used by pain management and addiction treatment patients, which can lead to ineffective treatment and adverse drug events, such as overdose.”

Kaiser Permanente Colorado has used the new technology in its pain management and chemical dependency screening process and reports that it has improved the process because results are far more detailed and useful to its physicians.

“Treatment professionals simply cannot afford to miss multiple drug use in their patients—the stakes are too high,” said Dr. Galinkin. “CU Toxicology’s drug test is the first in the industry that allows treatment professionals to treat with an accurate, complete picture of drug use. It takes the guesswork out of the process.”

CU Toxicology has developed a white paper, “Flying Blind. Traditional UDT: Irrelevant In a Polypharmacy World,” which highlights why researchers there believe that traditional urine drug screen technology has become increasingly irrelevant and unreliable as rates of polypharmacy have risen.