Evidence of drugs usage captured in strands of hair is to be used as part of Claritest, a new drug and alcohol testing service being launched by Anglia DNA, based on the Norwich Research Park. It is the only laboratory of its kind in the East of England to offer the service, which will offer rapid screening of hair and fluid samples. The new laboratory has recently been opened by George Freeman MP for Mid-Norfolk.
Being in employment is recognised as having a key role in achieving and sustaining recovery for people with drug problems. But evidence from the recent UKDPC research* found recovering users are heavily stigmatised and face considerable barriers to re-entering the workforce. The hair test could help by providing evidence of an individual’s commitment to rehabilitation.
The new service has been welcomed by solicitor Sandra Nunn, a Principal at
Norwich-based Cozens-Hardy LLP, who explains that testing is helpful when it
is one person’s word against another.
“If we have a case where a client feels they have been wrongly accused of drug or alcohol misuse then this testing service will be very useful.”
The company also specialises in DNA testing for legal purposes and has produced an innovative over-the-counter paternity testing kit. DNA testing is typically required in family law, child support, immigration and for probate.
Dr Haizel says positive feedback from solicitors and local government encouraged Anglia DNA to expand.
“Clients said they valued our responsive service and suggested that we expanded our portfolio to include testing for substance abuse in hair, blood, urine and saliva. This gave us confidence that there would be market demand for the new service.
Drugs are only detectable in blood or urine for a few days or weeks, but hair provides a drugs history for several months and this can be used as the basis of a screening service for workplaces, rehabilitation clinics and sporting bodies.
Opening the new laboratory, George Freeman, MP for Mid-Norfolk, and Government Life Sciences Adviser said:
“I am delighted to be officially opening the new laboratory. Anglia DNA is a perfect example of the potential of Norfolk’s world-class science base to help create the products, businesses and jobs of tomorrow.
“I know from my work on the board of the NRP ‘Iceni’ Start-up fund what an excellent business this is. Having raised over £500,000, with plans for additional investment and growth and overseas exports, Anglia DNA shows how ‘the appliance of science’ can be used to develop pioneering new products and services.
“Anglia’s successful expansion on the Norwich Research Park is a tribute to the potential of the NRP to not just contribute to, but lead, a sustainable economic recovery in the UK. That’s why I am determined to continue my work in Parliament highlighting the importance of the NRP and Norfolk’s science base to our future economic prosperity.“
Professor Andrew Stewart Coats, Norwich Research Park CEO, said:
“Anglia DNA is a good example of the type of science-based companies that we want to attract and nurture on the Norwich Research Park. The company aims to employ 100 people in the next 10 years and we are pleased to see it prosper.”
Employers have legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and it is a criminal offence for certain workers in safety-critical occupations to be unfit through drugs and or drink. It is advised that all employers have a drugs policy that is drawn up with employee consultation and increasingly this will include drug screening.
Written by Rachel Holdsworth