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Buddy T

ETG Alcohol Test Maker Faces Lawsuit

By January 25, 2011

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The manufacturer of a popular urine test, used by employers, probation officers and police to determine if someone has consumed alcohol, is being sued by a Minneapolis man who claims the test is "inherently faulty." John Gerard Miller filed the lawsuit last week against Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, the makers of the EtG/EtS tests.

Miller's lawsuit claims the manufacturer does not inform its customers that the test results can be skewed by outside substances, such as hand sanitizer or aftershave.

Miller, 46, was on probation for a drunk driving conviction when a court-ordered EtG test showed that he had been drinking, a violation of his probation. Miller knew that he had not had a drink, but he was sent to jail.

At his probation hearing, one of the physicians that helped develop the tests for use in the United States testified on Miller's behalf. Dr. Gregory Skipper said studies have shown that the EtG test results can be affected by many common items, including sanitizers, mouthwash, sauerkraut and even bananas.

'Tests Aren't Perfect'

"There's so many people getting tested for these tests, EtG/EtS, some small percent may be positive because of extraneous alcohol," Dr. Skipper testified. "If 100,000 people are getting tested and only 0.1 percent are being falsely accused, that's still 100 people. It's not perfect. It's pretty good, but if you want to not punish innocent people, what's our tolerance for that? If it's zero, then we've got a problem with that because these tests aren't perfect."

Miller's lawsuit claims that Redwood has continued to market its tests as accurate in spite of an advisory issued in 2006 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that relying on the biomarker test as the sole basis for taking legal action was "inappropriate and scientifically unsupportable."

Spent 135 Days in Jail

Miller's lawsuit claims the company has continued to sell its tests and suppress their faults merely to maintain profitability.

At his probation hearing, the judge ruled that Miller had provided sufficient evidence that his test was affected by his incidental contact with paint thinner and hand sanitizer prior to the urine test. The Judge ordered him released, but Miller had spent 135 days in jail waiting on the hearing.

News Source: David Hanners, Pioneer Press. Man sues lab over accuracy of Alcohol Test. Jan. 19, 2001.

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January 26, 2011 at 10:27 am
(1) Bob says:

My question of Dr Skipper, action in introducing ETG into the US in 2000. What Blind Study was done, other than not informing the physicians of Alabama in his program as Medical Director of the Alabama Physician Health Program .

Dr Skipper use data gathered prior to publishing the results of 100 physicians in May 2004 Physician Health News. Was he secretly gathering data and not informing these 100 physicians?

What are the cost of these Physicians,Nurses,Others,etc. that they had to incur in order to perform their duties as workers.

Of course Dr Skipper received $10,000.00 or more that we know of.

Did the State of Alabama pay for the European trip visiting Dr Wurst. Should not the state receive the monies for introducing ETG into his program.

January 31, 2011 at 8:20 am
(2) Mike says:

Not sure what Bob is trying to say, but I know from experience that ETG can give false positives. I tested positive on a Monday with previous Friday and next day, Tuesday negative results. To make things worse, I was told that even positive samples are discarded and a re-test is not possible. The only possible cause for the positive result was the use of after shave one hour before the test. Absolutely no alcohol drinking was involved. The test is way too sensitive for accurate results.

February 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm
(3) Sherrie says:

my husband is curently out on bail for a probation violation from an etg test that came back positive when in fact he had not drank we are waiting to go infront of the Judge on the 14th and they want to revoke his probation or make him do drug court i just find this illegal and unexceptable i can only hope yore article can help us win this thank you.

February 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm
(4) Michael Webb says:

I contacted Dr. Gregory Skipper last year when I was dealing with a similar situation. I was in Mental Health Court (alternative felony sentencing program) and tested positive for alcohol on an EtG test. I continue to maintain my sobriety today. I presented the courts with Dr. Skipper’s study (there is a link in his reply to me later in this comment), the SAHMSA advisory (http://www.kap.samhsa.gov/products/manuals/advisory/pdfs/0609_biomarkers.pdf), and my own statement – stating that Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts should more than any other organization recognize any and all advisories from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and in doing so they should not perform EtG tests to prove abstinence from alcohol. I do feel that there should be studies conducted and published to determine based on body weight and height, how much alcohol consumed will lead to certain EtG levels.

His reply

The EthGel study that can be downloaded from my site (www.ethylglucuronide.com) is really the only published study. I did do an experiment with volunteers who used alot of handgel (62% alcohol) for an hour and one of the EtG levels was in the 800s, so I know it can happen. That study is not published, unfortunately.

Gregory E. Skipper, MD | Medical Director

August 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm
(5) sherri says:

I recently used Off Deep Woods insect repellent and showed positive in a ETG urine test. I am not a drinker so I know the test was not accurate. I am in drug court and this positive result could cause me to be set back in the program. So please make sure to read all labels and if you are still not sure ask someone.

October 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm
(6) Taylor H says:

hi I am in drug court and I keep getting positive test over and over again. All I drink is water and nothing else because I’m so scared to get a positive test. Can someone please help me I don’t know what to do and I keep going to jail because of this. I do not drink I have three hundred and fourteen days clean. If anyone could please give me some information I would appreciate it thanks

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