A New Fingerprint Drug Testing System Can Detect With 99 Percent Accuracy

Are fingerprint scans the future of drug testing?
A New Fingerprint Drug Testing System Can Detect With 99% Accuracy
West Midlands Police/ Flickr

A groundbreaking new fingerprint drug testing system can detect the presence of cannabis and other drugs with up to 99 percent accuracy, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. The device, the Reader 1000 manufactured by U.K. firm Intelligent Fingerprinting, can detect four classes of commonly abused drugs in the trace amounts of sweat found in fingerprints.

The Reader 1000 analyzes the sweat in the fingerprints of subjects, living or dead, for cannabis, amphetamines, opiates, and cocaine and delivers results within ten minutes. The accuracy of the device was found to be 99 percent for cannabis, 95 percent for cocaine, 96 percent for opiates, and 93 percent for amphetamines. The Reader 1000 consists of a portable analysis unit and a cartridge to collect the fingerprint sample. When the cartridge with the sample is inserted into the analysis unit, sensors detect the presence or absence of metabolites of the four drug classes.

David Russell, Emeritus Professor at the University of East Anglia, U.K. is a co-author of the research and founder of Intelligent Fingerprinting. He told the Daily Mail that the Reader 1000 is an easy and efficient way to conduct drug screenings.

‘This new research highlights how our [device] can screen rapidly for drug use in individuals using a fingerprint sample with a sample collection time of only five seconds, and a total analysis time of ten minutes,” Russell said.

Accuracy Confirmed by Coroners

For the research, three coroners used the system to test the fingerprints of 75 dead bodies. The study found that there was enough sweat present for analysis and that the device could detect the presence or absence of each of the four classes of drugs. Coroners could eventually see a practical application of the research and the Reader 1000.

“Our study also showed how our technology is being used by coroners to assist in gaining early understanding of the possible cause of death, and to inform potential further post-mortem activities or quickly facilitate police investigations,” said Russell.

The results obtained by coroners with the fingerprint drug testing system were compared to those from analysis conducted in a more controlled environment.

“We matched the coroners’ drug test results obtained using our fingerprint drug screen with a second sample tested in laboratory conditions, achieving excellent correlation in terms of accuracy,” Russell said.

Researchers also found that the coroners’ results were consistent with other commonly used drug screening processes.

“We also compared our results with toxicological analysis of blood and urine samples, with a good correlation of results,” Rusell added.

Dr. Paul Yates, director of business development at Intelligent Fingerprinting, said in a press release that the device has several advantages over other drug screening methods.

“The results from our coroner service trials also clearly demonstrate how our non-invasive fingerprint screen is simple to use, hygienic, and offers an ideal complementary screening approach for the growing number of sectors that require a rapid and flexible drug test,” said Yates.

The Reader 1000 is already in use in the U.K. at morgues, drug treatment centers, workplaces, and schools. The system is also being considered for use by correctional facilities and probation services to produce more accurate detection times.

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