Oral Fluid Drug Testing

Convenient, Observed Specimen Collection

Labcorp offers lab-based oral fluid specimen collections in its network of company owned and operated patient service centers (PSCs). Lab-based oral fluid drug testing provides a simple method to collect chain of custody drug screen specimens almost anywhere. The oral fluid collection is directly observed, making it less susceptible to specimen adulteration.1 The donor simply opens the sealed collection device and places it in their mouth, and the collector transfers the specimen into the transport tube for shipment to the laboratory.

Oral Fluid Drug Testing

Oral fluid is an alternative matrix for drug testing that has recently been approved for use by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in federal workplace drug testing programs. Oral fluid represents the liquid in the oral cavity (mouth) and contains saliva as well as cellular debris, gingival fluid and microorganisms. Drugs/metabolites are transferred into the oral fluid from the blood and as a result, may be present primarily as parent drug and in lower concentrations than typically observed in urine.

Oral fluid is usually collected in specialized specimen collection devices that containing stabilizing buffers for transport to the laboratory for testing. While testing must be optimized to accommodate lower cutoffs and specimen volumes, the methodologies used for testing are similar to those used for urine drug screening. Initial testing is performed by immunoassay and confirmatory testing is performed by mass spectrometry. 

Our oral fluid drug test profile options include:

  • Amphetamine/methamphetamine/ecstasy
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Buprenorphine
  • Cannabinoids (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Cotinine
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Opiates (expanded menu)
  • Oxycodone
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Propoxyphene
  • Tramadol

Results for specimens that screen negative for all drugs are generally available within 24-36 hours after specimens are received at the laboratory. Results for confirmation testing of presumptive positive screens are usually available within an additional 72 hours. Oral fluid testing is suitable for all testing categories (e.g., preemployment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion) and can be incorporated into your current testing protocol as the primary specimen or as an alternate specimen when a donor is unable to provide a urine sample. 

To set up an oral fluid drug testing program, contact Labcorp sales.

Oral Fluid Drug Testing FAQ

  • How does the drug detection window for oral fluid compare to urine and hair?

    Drug detection times vary depending on the dose, sensitivity of the testing method used, preparation and route of administration, duration of use (acute or chronic), the matrix that is analyzed, the molecule or metabolite that is looked for, the pH and concentration of the matrix (urine, oral fluid), and variations in metabolic and renal clearance. In general, the detection time is longest in hair, followed by urine and oral fluid. Drugs in hair may be detectable for up to 90 days, whereas drugs in urine are generally detectable for one to seven days (or longer in chronic users) and in oral fluid from five to 48 hours.2

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  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Mandatory guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs—Oral/fluid. 42 CFR Chapter 1. October 25, 2019.