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Why are there different drug test panels?

different drug test panels

4 panel – 5 panel – 9 panel – 10 panel – 12 panel

Why is it necessary to have so many different drug test panels? And, a panel means nothing on its own it’s just a description of how many drugs it detects at once.

A 4-panel drug test identifies four drugs, a 5-panel detects five drugs, and a 10-panel identifies ten drugs and so on. When putting together a test or panel for drugs of abuse it’s important to understand what drugs are to be tested and why. Employers should make sure their employees are screened for the correct drugs and that it matches their Employee Drug-Free Workplace Policy.

Here are some examples; a 4-panel could test for Marijuana, Opiates, Cocaine, & Amphetamines, but just as easily test for Oxycodone, Benzodiazepines, Methamphetamines, or Ecstasy. The important thing to understand is that this example only identifies four substances, which makes it a 4-panel drug test.

The choice to the number of panels may be influenced by profession, state laws, and company experiences.

There seems to be no strict definition of which drugs should be tested and how many panels used. NIDA does, however, make some recommendations and it’s worth taking a look.

different drug test panels
4 panel urine dip test.

Different Drug Test Panels

Who or what decides why there are different drug test panels? In some cases, it’s the influence of test labs who have developed different panels to suit the specific needs of their clients. In some cases, particularly now many states have legalized marijuana the need to test for five drugs with a 5-panel drug test has been eliminated in preference to a 4-panel urine test; the cost savings by testing for fewer drugs are negligible. Larger corporations, staffing agencies, and smaller employers may decide to customize their panel by adding Methamphetamine instead of Phencyclidine.

A five-panel drug test is often the test of choice by companies, individuals who want to pre-test will use a ten-panel to cover all bases before their company test; this is common practice and sensible. In industries where heavy machinery is operated or company are vehicles used, their test may vary from a five-panel drug test to a ten-panel drug test. A ten-panel test should always be the test of choice in these situations as it will include some prescription drugs as these are often abused to detrimental consequences as it is likely to impair their ability to operate machinery in a safe manner.

There are many variations of a five-panel drug screen which may include Oxycodone, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Opiates, Amphetamines, or Meth; there is no standard and it may require some research to decide what would best suit you.

A typical ten-panel drug screen is often administered to test employees in law enforcement and occupational medicine, as well as to examine if a person on legal probation is violating the terms of that probation. Further, many civil servants are required to pass a 10 panel drug screen, particularly if their job entails dangerous work or work where the employee is responsible for the safety of others.

A standard 10-panel drug urine test would screen for
Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Opiates, Methadone, Propoxyphene, and Methamphetamines.

A twelve-panel drug test is often administered as an extension to the 10 panel test and looks for either the presence of other opiate-based drugs and prescription opioids or can look for other controlled substances.

different drug test panels
10 panel urine drug screen cup.

A standard 12-panel drug urine test typically screens for
Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Buprenorphine, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Opiates, Oxycodone, Methadone, Propoxyphene, and Methamphetamines.

There are many different drug test panels available, each to suit a particular need for a specific situation. If you want to see more drug panel combinations from 1 panel drug tests to 14 panel cup drug tests, click here.

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