In order to curb drug driving, scientists in UK have developed a new roadside test kit for Cocaine users. The new kit is claimed to be much more accurate than its predecessor and does not return false positives. Nearly 5% of all earlier positive roadside cocaine tests were found to be false positives, causing harrassment for the drivers.
The new kit and its workings have been published in the “Analytical Methods” journal. According to co-author of the paper Melanie Bailey, “Drug-driving is an increasing problem. We want to try to improve safety on the roads and this is one way to do that because we will be able to monitor a larger number of people without wasting their time by getting false positive results.” The previous test kit was antibody based where the antibody used to bind with Cocaine molecules to give result. But the antibody can bind with other stuff as well such as certain types of antibiotics. This created false positives. The older test also could not reveal the amount of Cocaine someone has used.
The new test will use a swab of saliva from the user and test it using chromatography kit. Using chromatography, different chemicals in the saliva will be separated and analysed. This will reveal if Cocaine fragments are present and in what quantity. Each of these test kits will cost 30,000 GBP as compared to only 5 GBP for the earlier kits. But the researchers are positive about its cost effectiveness as each kit can accommodate many tests.