Texas MedClinic now offers employers a way to test employees for the use of synthetic drugs like Bath Salts, K2 or Spice, which have been hard to detect in the past.
The drugs have attributed to extremely violent behavior and hallucinations. In May, a man in Miami, Florida, was believed to be under the influence of Bath Salts when he ate another man’s face.
In 2011, Texas outlawed these synthetic drugs.
Texas MedClinic ships patients’ urine samples to be screened by the federally-regulated MEDTOX Laboratories in St. Paul, MN, which developed the test.
“This is outside that standardized industry right now because it is so cutting edge,” said Dr. David Gude, Chief Operating Officer of Texas MedClinic.
The test is done the same way many other drug screenings are- using a urine sample.
The real challenge is keeping up with the chemicals that are used to constantly change the make up of the drugs in order to mask their detection.
“Its constantly playing catch up,” said Gude. “It looks entirely different, so now the lab has to develop a different test specifically to look for this particular drug.”
He describes it as a “mushroom cloud is exploding and getting more complicated.”
Gude expects testing for the synthetic drugs will become eventually standard as companies begin seeing the benefits.
"The expansion of this type of drug testing is going to be a substantial tool for employers,” said Cyndi Mergele, of Padgett Stratemann Human Resources Consulting Group. “If they can’t control the sale, they can at least deter the use.”
That is, as long as the testing industry can keep up.
“The testing will have to constantly evolve as long as the products are available,” said Gude.
The test will cost employers roughly an additional $80 per person to screen employees or potential hires for Bath Salts, K2 or Spice.