Issue 4 | November 2020

As we enter the last two months of 2020, the Thermo Fisher Scientific Toxicology Team presents the fourth quarter edition of the Let’s Talk Tox newsletter. Our goal is to deliver relevant information to keep you abreast of current trends, current research and publications, educational content, technical tips and future events. This newsletter is the result of customer feedback, so we cordially invite you to send questions, comments or suggestions for topics to help us better serve you. Contact us at LetsTalkTox@thermofisher.com.

Cannabidiol (CBD) & the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In July, the FDA submitted a report to Congress that evaluated a study of CBD product labeling as compared to the product’s actual content. Not surprising was that many CBD products contain the main psychoactive compound of cannabis, THC.1

The study included 200 products such as gummies and CBD-infused drinks. 55% of those products contained a CBD concentration that was different from the package labeling. Current law (2018 Farm Bill) dictates that hemp products may not contain more than 0.3% THC and of the 200 products tested, almost half of them contained THC. THC still remains an illegal substance under federal law.

The results of this study has prompted the FDA to plan an even larger study of CBD products including lotions, food products and popular vaping cartridges. The agency is taking this action to prepare for future proposed regulations on products containing CBD.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has Fueled the Opioid Crisis in the US

As public health authorities predicted, the pandemic has fueled the opioid crisis. Overdose deaths across the United States are rising as job losses and pandemic-related stressors such as social isolation continue to disrupt our lives. According to a June survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13% responded that they started or increased their substance use to deal with the pandemic.2

People enrolled in addiction treatment programs are the most vulnerable for program relapses with the onset of social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders. Termination of in-person appointments with counselors can leave a patient feeling alone and isolated which can lead to setbacks such as continued or new substance use.

According to the Overdose Detection Mapping Program that collects real-time overdose data nationally, overdose cases rose 18% in mid-March compared to early 2020 before the pandemic started. States are reporting increases in the use of fentanyl during the pandemic which is concerning as opioid users are encouraged not to use these drugs while alone in case they overdose and there would be no one to revive them with an opioid antagonist like naloxone. 

In the News

Leading Cause of Pregnancy-Associated Deaths in Florida is Drug-Related

In June, the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association published an alarming alert that substance abuse was the leading cause of pregnancy associated death (PAD). PAD is defined as death of a woman during or within one year of pregnancy, regardless of duration and site of pregnancy.3

The use of opioids, marijuana and stimulants are becoming increasingly common during pregnancy. While the number of overall PAD per 100,000 live births declined from 2008 (81.2) to 2017 (62.7), drug related PAD per 100,000 births increased from 9.5 in 2008 to 17.9 in 2017.

Recommendations include screening women of childbearing age for substance use disorder (SUD), especially if they intend to become pregnant or already are pregnant. Providing education and ongoing prenatal care along with intervention and referral to treatment programs could help reduce SUD and improve the health of both mother and child. 

Another recommendation is for clinicians to prescribe safer medications or alternative therapies to help with pain management or mood disorders to avoid addiction. Studies have demonstrated that opioid-naïve women who receive an opioid prescription during pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum are more likely to experience new, persistent opioid use. 

Did You Know?

Urine Samples for Drugs of Abuse Screening have Storage Requirements

Care should be taken to preserve the chemical integrity of the urine sample from the time it is collected until the time it is assayed. Specimens kept at room temperature that do not receive initial testing within 7 days of arrival at the laboratory may be placed into a secure refrigeration unit at 2-8°C for up to two months. For longer storage prior to analysis or for sample retention after analysis, urine specimens may be stored at -20°C.

On-Demand Webinar

How To Serve Participants Safely & Cost-Effectively During A Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a major disruption to all aspects of our daily lives. Are you challenged with having to think “outside of the box” to create a safer environment for your participants and employees? Are you feeling the pandemic’s impact on your funding and budgets? During this webinar, you will learn from industry experts how to identify drug testing strategies that will address both the safety and cost-effectiveness obstacles you face during this “new normal.” You’ll also hear examples of what other drug courts have done to mitigate risk and/or reduce operating costs.

Andrew Cummings, Executive Director, Advanced Outcomes Consulting Group, GA
S. Tim Prewett, Admin. of Superior Court, Douglas County Judicial Circuit, Douglasville, GA
Watch now!


Why are my QC results different from the ones published in the values?

The combinations of different lots of reagents, calibrators, instrument-to-instrument variability, and different methods from which the results were generated (i.e. LC/MS vs Immunoassay) can shift target means. Please keep in mind that published values are provided as a guide, and each laboratory should establish their own control ranges per regulatory guidelines.

If you need further assistance, please contact Technical Support at: 

Email: techservice.mgc@thermofisher.com

Phone: +1 800-232-3342, opt 2, opt 3. 



  1.  Lexology
  2.  Wall Street Journal 
  3.  Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association

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