Journal Article

Field-Test of a Date-Rape Drug Detection Device

Dale W. Quest and Joanne Horsley

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 31, issue 6, pages 354-357
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Field-Test of a Date-Rape Drug Detection Device

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  • Medical Toxicology
  • Toxicology (Non-medical)


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Drink Safe Technology Version 1.2 is an inexpensive color-change reagent test marketed internationally for use by consumers in settings such as a nightclub to detect potentially incapacitating concentrations of γ-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and ketamine in beverages. The objective of this study was to compare product performance in the laboratory and performance in the hands of consumers in the field. Product performance in the laboratory adhered to the protocol defined by the manufacturer. Product performance in the hands of consumers in field settings allowed browsing participants to pipette an aliquot of their own drinks into randomly coded vials containing authentic drugs, or pure water, so as to yield the same concentrations of GHB or ketamine specified in the manufacturer-defined protocol, or blanks. Consumers were to proceed according to the directions printed on the product, and to record their results on a card with a code corresponding with the vial to which they had added an aliquot of their beverage. Diagnostic performance was calculated using two-way analysis. In the laboratory, Drink Safe Technology Version 1.2 reliably detected GHB and ketamine at concentrations specified by the manufacturer's protocol. The reactive color change denoting a positive test for GHB was rapid, but a positive test for ketamine required substantially more time to resolve. Nonetheless, test accuracy following the manufacturer's protocol in the laboratory was 100%. In the field, based on 101 paired-test results recorded by consumers, the test efficiency was 65.1%, sensitivity 50%, and specificity 91.6%. The product performed much better in the laboratory than it did in the hands of consumers in the field. There seems to be considerable potential for consumers to misinterpret a test result. The potential for consumers to record a false-negative test result for a spiked drink is cause for concern.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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