The ability of two commercially available quick test kits to detect drug-facilitated sexual assault drugs in beverages

Addiction. 2006 Oct;101(10):1413-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01420.x.


Aims: Assessment of the sensitivity and specificity of two commercially available 'drug-facilitated sexual assault' drug detector kits, Drink Guard and Drink Detective.

Design: Experimental.

Setting: Laboratory.

Measurements: Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) sodium salt, ketamine hydrochloride, temazepam, flunitrazepam and diazepam were dissolved (Tween added to benzodiazepine solutions) as separate stock solutions and added to 330 ml samples of cola (Pepsi Max), beer (Stella Artois), 'alcopop' (Bacardi Breezer) and placebo (distilled water). The doses used are reported to be common in cases of intoxication. Each kit was tested 10 times for each drink/drug combination. Two blind, independent observers scored each test (presence/absence of drug) in accordance with kit instructions; chi 2 was used to compare the proportion of times raters scored tests correctly and incorrectly. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated overall, for each drink, and sensitivity was calculated for each drug. Inter-observer agreement was evaluated using the kappa statistic.

Findings: While both raters were able to score significantly more tests correctly than incorrectly using Drink Detective, and one rater scored similarly using Drink Guard, the overall sensitivity of Drink Detective and Drink Guard was 69.0% (95% CI 64.2-73.5%) and 37.5% (95% CI 30.1-45.5%), respectively. Sensitivity was drink-dependent. Drink Detective was unable to detect our dose of GHB in water, with all tests scored negatively by both raters for this drink/drug combination (n = 20 negative scores). Overall, specificity was 76.6% (95% CI 71.5-81.0%) and 87.9% (95% CI 83.0-91.6%) for Drink Guard and Drink Detective, respectively, but was affected by the beverage. Inter-rater agreement was poor for Drink Guard (kappa = 0.278 +/- 0.069) but excellent for Drink Detective (kappa = 0.894 +/- 0.245). Inter-observer agreement was drug-dependent.

Conclusions: Use of drug detector kits by the public in the night-time environment needs further investigation and may create a false sense of security (false negatives) and undue concern (false positives) among kit users.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzodiazepines / analysis*
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / chemistry*
  • Observer Variation
  • Rape
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Safety
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / standards


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Benzodiazepines