Application and Clinical Value of Definitive Drug Monitoring in Pain Management and Addiction Medicine

Pain Med. 2022 Apr 8;23(4):821-833. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnab303.


Objective: To assess routine application and clinical value of definitive urine drug monitoring (UDM) for drug detection, inconsistent drug use, and prescription adherence, along with a comparison to immunoassay screening (IAS).

Methods: Direct-to-definitive UDM performance was analyzed retrospectively in 5000 patient specimens. Drug findings, medication inconsistencies, and detection sensitivity were assessed, and definitive UDM versus IAS monitoring was studied.

Results: Definitive testing resulted in 18,793 drug findings with 28,403 positive drug and metabolite tests. Definitive testing expanded monitoring with 11,396 drug findings that would not be tested by IAS. The opioids accounted for the highest frequency of inconsistent positive drug-use findings, at 12%. Conversely, inconsistent negative drug findings, used as an index of prescription non-adherence, were determined in 1,751 of 15,409 monitored medications and included a high frequency of antidepressants and antipsychotics inconsistencies. Direct comparison of definitive UDM and IAS showed false-positives by IAS as well as a high rate of false-negatives that would be missed using current confirmation protocols.

Conclusions: Results from routine application of direct-to-definitive UDM demonstrate the clinical value of drug-use identification and the objective evaluation of inconsistencies in drug misuse and medication adherence in pain management and addiction medicine practice. Without conversion to direct-to-definitive UDM, continuing use of IAS will limit the scope of drugs being tested, will result in an indeterminate rate of false negatives and will require confirmation testing to eliminate the reporting of false-positive IAS tests. The findings in this study provide evidence-based support for recommended use of a direct-to-definitive drug testing protocol.

MeSH terms

  • Addiction Medicine*
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Pain Management
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / diagnosis