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Great Britain Scientists Developing "Lollipop" Drug Test


November-December 1997

Scientists in Great Britain are developing a tool to test drivers for having used illegal drugs by having suspect drivers lick a "lollipop" swab stick. After licking the absorbent end of the swab stick, police would have a sample of saliva they could analyze inside a portable analyzer. The analysis would take 5 minutes and preliminary tests show a 95 to 100 percent success rate. The saliva analysis reportedly can detect cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, methadone, amphetamines, heroin, morphine, and barbiturates. (Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1997, Section 1).

Jim Frank, a Highway Safety Specialist with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), told NewsBriefs that drug and alcohol detection using saliva, sweat and hair analysis is not well developed in the U.S. However, he said there is an increasing interest in developing such tools. Frank said most on-site screening devices (OSSDs) currently use urine samples to detect drug use, and are not used as evidence. OSSDs are not widely used in traffic settings, according to Frank, an expert on OSSDs.

Jim Frank- NHTSA, (202) 366-5593.