Key opinion leader provides specifics for using the hair drug-testing product with the pros and cons.
Harshav Raval, PharmD, RPh: For a hair type of testing kit, the pro is that the hair testing kit is going to provide a more definitive answer. It’s going to provide a better result that you’re going to be able to use practically. The good thing about a hair test kit is that you need a small sample. It’s a small snippet, closest to the scalp so that you get the best result, and that sample is then sent to a laboratory.
Typically, it takes about 7 days to 2 weeks for the results to come back. That result is interpreted and analyzed, and you get your results, whether it is definitive or not of what it you’re looking for. The result will actually be more indicative of what kind of products are in your system, and it’ll give you a better understanding. My recommendation is using a hair test for someone who got a positive result on a urine test and wants to get additional testing and get a definitive answer.
Another of the pros of using a hair test kit is that it does provide data for the last 90 days, or the last 3 months of what was in that specific person’s system. It gives you a good overview or snapshot of exactly what kind of person it is, either who you’re hiring or who you’re dealing with, and what is in their system. It’s a better representation of 90 days. The one downside of using a hair follicle test kit is that the test itself doesn’t provide results for something that was used in the short term, or the last 3 to 5 days.
If you’re looking for something for the short term, a urine test kit may be better for that. If you’re looking for something long term—90 days plus—but you don’t really care about the short or immediate 3 to 5 days, then the hair test kit is going to be the best for that.
The question is, is it cheat proof? The answer is yes. There’s no way to really cheat on a hair test. You’re growing hair and it’s not something that you can control, whereas in a urine test you can cheat by using other samples. You can fake the results. You can do other things to get a false-negative result. With a hair testing kit, you typically don’t have a cheating method. Sometimes people cut all their hair off. They think that they’d be able to sway the results because of that, and that’s typically not the case. They’ve missed the hair under their arms or their pubic hair, so there are always ways to get testing in different areas. There’s no way to remove all the hair off your body, and it’s a very small sample. A pencil width in length is how much you need to test, so it’s not required to have a lot.
I haven’t used a hair testing kit on myself, nor do I have any experience with it in my specific field of independent pharmacy. That’s something that is seen more in a laboratory setting or a doctor’s office setting with patients who they’re looking to test for 90 days, or in different employers who have received a positive test with a urine kit and want to get a definitive result with a hair kit. I do know that there have been patients who have come into the pharmacy who have mentioned that they have had a hair test kit. Hair testing has been done for those folks who are on certain medications that require additional testing, and they have come back and said that the tests came up correct, and that they were trying to cheat with something else.
There are many pros to the hair test kit. I recommend hair test kits for folks who want to get a better understanding of what is actually in their system. Some of the other kits provide a yes or no, but the hair test kit provides more definitive, quantitative results. More so than that, I think it provides a better understanding of what’s been in the system of this specific individual for 3 months. Those results are more important to understand than having a result that says that something is in their system in a short-term period. We’re trying to see behavior, and we’re trying to correct behavior, if there is something that needs to be corrected. The best way to do it is to know if something has been in the system for a period of 90 days, because then we know that there’s a problem that we can address and solve.