A Crisis Within A Crisis
Substance Abuse in the Midst of a Pandemic
“Social distancing.” “Shelter in place”. “Stay at home orders”. These are now well known phrases as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is among us. According to data from Statista.com, as of April 28, 2020, there were approximately 3,081,410 global cases of COVID-19 resulting in over 212,000 deaths. The three countries hardest hit by the pandemic are the United States, Italy, and Spain. Worldwide, approximately 210 countries and territories have now been affected by the COVID-19 disease.
While the isolation from staying at home and the physical distancing measures helping mitigate the spread of the virus is stressful for most, for those suffering from substance abuse and addiction, these challenges can prove to be insurmountable. Prior to the COVID-19 health crisis, the nation was in the midst of another crisis—the opioid crisis. Fueled by a surge in methamphetamine, prescription drugs, heroin and fentanyl, deaths from drug overdoses were happening at a staggering rate. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from an overdose with the majority involving prescription or illicit opioids.
The support and assistance people with a substance use disorder (SUD) require takes on many different forms. From counseling and support groups to on-going medication-assisted treatment. Now with heightened stress, the surge in unemployment, and the inability for those battling addiction to access proper treatment and support, Health officials involved in combating the opioid epidemic are concerned the progress we made addressing the opioid crisis will be derailed, resulting in many more lives lost. According to an analysis conducted by the national public health group Well Being Trust, a staggering number of Americans could die because of drug and alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration loosened restrictions allowing medication-assisted treatment programs more flexibility when prescribing harm-reduction medication including buprenorphine and methadone. Typically, patients receiving treatment for opioid abuse in these programs are required to come in to get their doses for the day. Now with these relaxed regulations, patients may be eligible to take home enough medication for up to 28 days depending on the stability of their recovery.
While this is one positive example of our nation adapting to these stacked epidemics, maintaining safe and effective drug screening/treatment programs and the utilization of alternative support methods are imperative now more than ever before. During this time when the likelihood of substance abuse and maintaining sobriety is being tested, it is important that we continue to address and treat those battling abuse and addiction by providing viable solutions for care.
Premier Biotech’s Commitment
Premier Biotech would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment to providing safe and reliable solutions that are helping to keep our customer’s patients, employees, and communities safe. We are here for you through the challenges we together are facing now and into the future.
Return-To-Work COVID-19 Testing
Employers and employees alike have questions about testing for COVID-19 in the workplace. As the nation slowly starts to reopen and people start to go back to work, antibody-based testing for COVID-19 may prove to be a valuable tool leveraged in conjunction with pre-employment and return-to-work drug testing practices. On April 23, 2020 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated their guidance determining that because an individual with the virus poses a direct threat to the health of others, employers may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees prior to them entering the workplace. The ADA requirement also states that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity,” and employers should continue to review guidance from the FDA and the CDC for updates relating to the accuracy and reliability of the testing.
Serology testing identifies the antibodies produced by the immune system in response to a virus. Testing employees starting or returning to work can help identify if they have had and recovered from the COVID-19 virus. This is important in protecting employee safety and can help staffing allocation for positions with a high-risk of contracting the disease i.e. first responders, medical professionals, and any other positions with frequent exposure to the public.
Telecollection Virtual Drug Screening
Premier Biotech is now supporting Telecollection Virtual Drug Screening. Treatment facilities throughout the country are adopting alternative methods to continue providing patient support. From consultation to collection, Telecollection offers an efficient and flexible solution. Premier Biotech’s Telehealth kit contains everything the donor needs to complete their supervised test, delivered directly to their door. Following the collection, the sample is then confirmed by Premier Biotech Labs, ordered through our online LIS software. This makes Premier Biotech’s Telehealth program a full-circle, 100% virtual offering.
OralTox – Rapid Oral Fluid Drug Screening
Sending candidates and employees to collection sites with high traffic lobbies in which they could potentially be exposed to COVID-19 among other things is and will remain a concern for some time. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the last busy hiring season, an estimated 60% of candidates that were told to report to a collection site never executed the test. The current reality is that requesting candidates/employees to report to a collection site for screening is not a sustainable option. Premier Biotech has an immediate option helping to ensure safe and reliable collections with OralTox.
The streamlined design of OralTox stands out when compared to other oral fluid tests on the market. OralTox is easy to administer, and allows the collector to observe the donor as he or she collects their own oral fluid specimen. This collaborative collection process helps reduce the likelihood of spreading or contracting the COVID-19 virus by allowing for safe distancing measures.
- Quick, reliable results in minutes
- Easy to administer collection procedure
- Prevents adulteration concerns
- Saturation indicator changes color when ample specimen has been collected
- Built in gravity feed for reliable sample distribution
- While observed, the donor completes the collection process independently
- Allows the collector to remain at a safe distance (CDC recommended 6’)
- The donor seals the collection swab into the device
- Removes concerns with increased collection site drop-off rates
- Expansive lab confirmation testing menu (Inconclusive results only)
OT-Scan Mobile Reader App
Used in conjunction with OralTox, the OT-Scan app from Premier Biotech is the next innovation in mobile drugs of abuse screening. Providing an easy to use drug screen results capture and reporting process with a streamlined user interface. Premier Biotech’s OT-Scan app can save your organization both time and money while integrating with ATS and patient tracking solutions.
- Platform Integration
Integration support and capabilities with existing systems for data retrieval in real-time.
- Save Time And Reduce Errors
Fast, accurate results without the need for manual interpretation or lengthy reporting.
- Electronic Consent
In-app signing capabilities captures the donor’s consent for testing.
- Device Capture Functionality
QR scanning technology ties the test to the individual, alleviating user input and reducing possible errors.
- Secure Results Reporting
Results are securely transmitted between the OT-Scan app and the defined data center using encrypted web services.
- In-App Tutorial + Support
Systematic instructions outline the testing procedure, with quick access to contact support.
Premier Biotech is here for you through the challenges we are facing together now and into the future. Rapid oral fluid testing with OralTox, automated result interpretation and reporting with OT-Scan, and lab based oral fluid screening via Telecollections, provide safe and reliable options for patient care and donor screening scenarios.
- Petterson, Steve et al. “Projected Deaths of Despair During the Coronavirus Recession,” Well Being Trust. May 8, 2020. WellBeingTrust.org