Hair drug-testing pilot scheme receives positive feedback (with photos)

     The Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, visiting the Government Laboratory (GL) today (December 30), was pleased to note that the hair drug-testing pilot scheme, which has received positive feedback, could help drug treatment centres and youth service units develop suitable treatment and rehabilitation programmes for drug abusers.

     Ms Wong visited the GL today to learn more about the progress of the hair drug-testing pilot scheme and the operation of new hair drug-testing instruments. GL officers said the laboratory had provided free hair testing to more than 10 organisations and units since the scheme was launched in June this year. By mid-December, about 160 hair samples had been tested.

     Ms Wong said, "I am pleased to learn that organisations participating in the scheme generally hold positive views. As hair drug-testing can trace the drug-taking history of an abuser for the previous three months or even a longer period, most of the participating organisations regard it as helpful in their formulation and implementation of the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation plans for drug abusers seeking help."

     Ms Wong was also shown the new hair drug-testing instruments that the GL had acquired, and noted they had come into service and were running well.

     She said, "It is estimated that the new instruments can handle 5,000 hair samples a year (i.e. about 100 hair samples per week). We hope that with the operation of the new instruments, the hair drug-testing service can be further enhanced and open to more service units, benefiting more people in need."

     Ms Wong said that the research report on the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District released earlier had suggested that in the further development of school-based drug-testing, schools could choose either the urine testing or hair testing method according to their own circumstances. The GL would continue to provide assistance in this regard.

     Ms Wong thanked the GL for their efforts in the development and promotion of hair drug-testing, which would help local laboratories develop and provide internationally accredited hair drug-testing services.

     "In the long run, we hope to transfer the technology to industry, so that the service can be developed locally," she said.

     She added that to arouse the interest of local laboratories in providing drug-testing services, the Administration was in discussions with the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification, the Hong Kong Accreditation Service etc. concerning the organisation of a workshop to share information on the technologies with local industry. The GL might also provide proficiency testing for laboratories interested in developing the service, with a view to helping them build up and enhance their testing abilities to obtain the relevant accreditation.

Ends/Thursday, December 30, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:09