Drug testing is an essential part of maintaining public safety and ensuring that individuals who operate machinery or perform safety-critical tasks are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the accuracy and reliability of drug test results depend on the quality of the testing process, including the use of appropriate quality control materials.
Quality control materials, or QC materials, are samples of known drug concentrations that are used to ensure the accuracy and consistency of drug test results. The use of QC materials is a critical component of drug testing, as it allows laboratories and testing facilities to verify that their testing equipment and procedures are functioning properly and producing accurate results.
The importance of QC materials in drug testing is recognised in international standards such as AS/NZS 4308 and AS/NZS 4760, which provide guidelines for the collection, detection, and quantification of drugs of abuse in biological specimens. These standards require the use of QC materials to monitor the performance of drug testing procedures and ensure the accuracy and reliability of test results.
The use of appropriate QC materials is important for several reasons:
- Ensuring accuracy and reliability of test results: QC materials provide a known drug concentration that can be used to verify that the testing equipment and procedures are functioning correctly. By comparing the results obtained from the QC material to the expected value, laboratories can detect and correct any errors or deviations in their testing process.
- Monitoring performance over time: QC materials are used to monitor the performance of drug testing procedures over time. By testing QC materials on a regular basis, laboratories can detect changes in their testing process and make adjustments as necessary to ensure the accuracy and reliability of test results.
- Meeting regulatory requirements: Many regulatory agencies require the use of QC materials in drug testing procedures, and failure to comply with these requirements can result in legal or financial consequences for the laboratory or testing facility.
- Ensuring comparability of results: The use of QC materials ensures that drug test results obtained from different laboratories or testing facilities are comparable. This is particularly important in cases where drug test results are used for legal or employment-related purposes, as inconsistent or unreliable results can have serious consequences for the individual being tested.
ASE Drugs of Abuse controls are manufactured in line with the cut-offs specified in AS/NZS 4308 and AS/NZS 4760 using materials of known drug concentration and a matrix that closely resembles the sample being tested (e.g., urine, saliva).
The use of appropriate QC materials is essential for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of drug test results. The guidelines provided by international standards such as AS/NZS 4308 and AS/NZS 4760 emphasise the importance of using QC materials to monitor the performance of drug testing procedures and ensure the accuracy and reliability of test results. Laboratories and testing facilities must make every effort to use QC materials appropriately to maintain the highest standards of quality and accuracy in drug testing.