Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Home Drug Tests Sold Online Have Limitations

Home Drug-Testing Kits May Not Be Accurate

WebMD Health News

April 7, 2004 -- Parents who buy home drug-testing kits on the Internet may not be getting the whole story.

A new study shows that none of the web sites studies that sold drug-testing kits provided adequate instruction on how to properly perform or interpret a drug test, and little information is provided on the risks of false-positive tests results.

Researchers say more than 200 drug-testing kits have been approved for home use without a prescription use since they were introduced in 1997. Several web sites specifically market these products to parents and encourage them to institute a "home drug policy."

But researchers say those recommendations are at odds with the policies of many professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, because they don't address issues of testing an adolescent against his or her will or giving adolescents the right of informed consent.

Little Information Provided About Home Drug Tests

In the study, published in the April issue of Pediatrics, researchers surveyed eight Internet sites that sold home drug-testing products. The products include hair, saliva and breath alcohol, and urine tests.

Researchers found most sites gave conflicting or incomplete information about which drugs were detected by the various tests. They found 14 indications for home drug testing were cited and all of the web sites claimed that drug testing was a way to know with certainty whether a child has used drugs.

However, no site included detailed instructions on how to collect a valid specimen for testing, and the sites did not adequately address the technical challenges of testing and the potential for inaccurate results.

Researchers say the potential for false-positive or false-negative results exists with every laboratory drug screening, and these errors may be even greater when using a home-based drug test.

For example, false-positive results for amphetamines are common and may occur when the child is using cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine.

In addition, only two of the sites gave suggestions on what parents could do if their child was using drugs.

Finally, researchers found only one site made a clear statement against testing an adolescent against his or her will.

"All in all, the quality of the information varied from site to site, and no single site contained adequate information to perform and interpret accurately a drug test and then make reasonable treatment decisions," writes researcher Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues.

"We believe that parents would be better served by a professional assessment for any young person who is suspected of using drugs."

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd