The analysis of hair for drugs of abuse is becoming increasingly popular and is under consideration by the Division of Health and Human Services as a possible alternative or adjunct to urinalysis in workplace programs. The detection of cocaine in human hair using a commercially available micro-plate enzyme immunoassay is described for the first time. Sample size and incubation time were the major variables in the optimization of the method. In order to validate the procedure, the method was applied to 105 consecutive hair samples routinely received into our laboratory. The samples were simultaneously analyzed by the Micro-Plate immunoassay (EIA), as well as our current fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA) procedure and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The sensitivity of the EIA and FPIA assays were 75% and 67.8% respectively; specificity 97.4% and 80.5% respectively; and efficiency 91.4 and 77.1% respectively. The Micro-Plate EIA was shown to be a valid alternative to other immunoassay screening methods for the detection of cocaine in hair by demonstrating increased sensitivity, specificity and efficiency over our current technique.
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