Hair drug-testing pilot scheme launched today

     The Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau announced that a hair drug-testing pilot scheme was launched today (June 1).

     The Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, said, "The objectives of the pilot scheme are to offer an alternative drug-testing method to interested parties providing drug treatment and rehabilitation and youth services, and to gauge service providers' demand for hair drug-testing service in order to prepare for the transfer of hair drug- testing technology to the industry."

     Ms Wong noted that hair testing could play a complementary role to urinalysis, which was most commonly used for drug testing in Hong Kong.

     She said, "Urinalysis is convenient and fast.  However, it can only examine the drug abuse situation for the past few days.  Hair testing, on the other hand, can detect the drug abuse situation from a few weeks to a few months.  Hair samples are relatively easy to collect.  Urinalysis and hair testing have their own merits.  Hair testing can play a complementary role to urinalysis, contributing to the anti-drug cause."

     The pilot scheme will provide free hair testing services to interested parties.  It will be open to all Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers, drug treatment and rehabilitation centres, Substance Abuse Clinics under the Hospital Authority and youth outreaching teams.

     Ms Wong said, "During the implementation of the pilot scheme, the Government Laboratory (GL) will provide drug testing for 50 hair samples per week with a normal turnaround time of three days.  Six commonly abused drugs, namely, cannabis, cocaine, cough syrup, ecstasy, ice and ketamine, will be tested.  All hair samples will undergo a screening test and samples screened positive will undergo a confirmatory test."

     She said that as with the existing practice of the centres and clinics conducting urinalysis, the provision of a hair sample was voluntary.  Drug testing results should only be used for the purposes of treatment and rehabilitation.  Each unit should also follow their own policy and guidelines concerning the protection of personal data.

     Ms Wong stressed that the Government attached great importance to the privacy of participants joining the scheme.

     "To protect the confidentiality of personal information, hair samples collected will only be accompanied by a reference code and the GL will not be provided with any identifiable personal information.  Test results will be released in a report which will be collected by hand by the staff of the relevant unit," she said.

     During the implementation of the scheme, the Government will collect feedback from users and fine-tune the mode of testing and the detailed arrangements.  Additional resources to acquire new hair testing instruments have been earmarked.  The Government plans to launch a full-scale service using new instruments in the fourth quarter of 2010 to benefit more users.

     Details of the pilot scheme have been uploaded to the ND's website (

Ends/Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:10