Review of the Meeting of the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) in Sao Paulo 2015
The top experts in the field of hair drug testing from Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America took part in this year’s SoHT’s meeting in Sao Paulo from 3 to 6 May 2015.
The high quality of the papers and lectures presented, as well as the discussions and the high-level of debate, made it not only an important scientific meeting, but also a meeting with implications for hair and drug testing more widely.
You can get a taste of the theme of the presentations by looking at the scientific programme here, where you can see the diversity of the subjects covered within the complex science of hair drug testing, from the evolution of hair drug testing, to different applications of hair testing, to the progress made and challenges that we still face in the fields of forensics, to child protection and workplace testing, to accreditation of laboratories.
There were many highlights and authors will be publishing their results soon. Cansford Laboratories had an active role in the Meeting. Not only did we support our sister lab in Brasil, ChromaTox, to organise the event, but jointly we presented 5 papers, which will also be published. They are exciting papers with results that contribute to the existing science of drug testing using hair.
James Nutt of Cansford Labs discussed the implications of people failing to attend hair collection appointments and whether this is or is not an indicator of drug taking. John Wicks provided an overview of the current and future trends of hair drug testing in the UK and in my lecture I stressed the need for laboratories to ensure that no user, whether an individual or a large organisation, can misunderstand what the technique can deliver and the risks when some marketing and sales departments obscure the implications of results coming out of laboratories for the sake of a sale or more likely, because they have misconceptions about hair testing.
Maristela Andraus of ChromaTox showed further evidence on the issues of external contamination of hair samples using real samples from crack cocaine users. This is important when people say that they haven’t used drugs but live with people who do. Maristela presented another paper showing worrying amounts of adulterants in the hair of people who use crack cocaine, along with the crack cocaine itself. The presence of adulterants in cocaine samples is not new. However, Maristela and co-workers showed that clinicians can benefit from the knowledge of which adulterants are in the hair samples of cocaine users when treating patients with symptoms not related to cocaine but to the specific adulterant.
We are also very proud to be instrumental in the elaboration of the Brazilian guidelines for drug and alcohol testing in hair collection and analysis. These guidelines will be a milestone in the hair testing practices in Brazil. The launch of the first ever Brazilian guidelines for the analysis of drugs in hair samples by the Brazilian Society of Toxicology – SBTox, in Portuguese took place. These guidelines will be vital for the harmonisation and improvement of the knowledge of this area in the country. Both, the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) and the European Workplace Drug Testing (EWDTS) made important contributions to the creation of this document.
With the success of the Sao Paulo meeting in mind Cansford Laboratories will have the pleasure of hosting the annual meeting of the SoHT in Cardiff in 2017. The 22nd Meeting of the Society of Hair Testing will be hosted in Cardiff 10 years after our team organised the meeting for the first time in Cardiff in 2007 when we were TrichoTech. The work has already started!