GHB has been a difficult drug to catch in testing due to rapid dissipation from blood
and urine in the human body.

This why it is so important for anyone who thinks they may have been drugged to get to a hospital or police station and be adamant about wanting to provide a urine sample immediately. 

Instrumentation testing for GHB in biological samples has existed for some time but requires the right instrumentation in a lab, time and expense.  Until now there hasn’t been a viable test to tell an emergency room immediately if GHB is present.  By the time a sample could be sent to the lab and tested, the emergency would be over, for better or worse.  For forensic testing, by a police department with the report of a crime, it also involves time and expense and is not routinely included in testing panels. 

Now there is a quick and simple test for GHB in urine samples.  It is inexpensive, requires no instrumentation and should be a game-changer for sexual assaults, drugged driving, drugging for robbery, overdose, death and drug abuse testing programs. 

Express Diagnostics,, is now working with Project GHB to promote awareness of the effects and dangers of GHB and to promote the availability of this important on-site test. The GHB test strip is a recent addition to Express Diagnostics on-site urine and saliva screening devices (see full press release).  The new DrugCheck GHB Single Test, the only onsite test for GHB, provides semi-quantitative results in five minutes. To purchase kits, submit this order form to Express Diagnostics via fax or email.

In the emergency room, GHB is often "identified" by the exhibited symptoms and by ruling out other drugs through standard hospital screening tests. And, perhaps just as often, GHB may go unidentified due to a lack of experience with GHB and testing limitations.  The challenge is especially critical in drug facilitated sexual assault cases involving GHB.

Delays in obtaining samples during long waits for examination will further limit the opportunity to detect GHB.  Urine is the better sample, and collection of the first sample as quickly as possible is crucial.  It is important to understand that a negative toxicology for GHB (as well as other drugs) does not necessarily mean the drug was not involved. It may simply indicate that the samples were not obtained during the brief window of opportunity or that the laboratory detection limits are too high for detection, potentially resulting in a false negative test.  Every effort should be made to get evidence taken quickly to improve the opportunity for detection.

More than 50 drugs have been identified in DFSA cases. The perpetrator’s goal is amnesia and/or incapacitation or impairment that will prevent victims from being able to protect themselves, recall the assault and to identify the assailant. But, it is important to remember that each drug has its own variation of symptoms and time that the drug remains in the body. Some specific drugs may be identifiable in urine up to 5-7 days after ingestion.  GHB just happens to be very short-lived.

Victims of DFSA or drugging for robbery, credit card fraud or sometimes even "just for
laughs" often report difficulty in getting testing done for GHB in the emergency room. This is especially true if not actually alleging DFSA or another crime. Individuals arrested for driving under the influence who believe they may have been drugged, even if the allegation is made in a timely manner, also report difficulty in getting tests done for drugs like GHB.  The availability of an inexpensive field test can alter the landscape of response to drugging allegations dramatically. 

As with all drugs, screening tests are not the final word. Screening tests are important
indicators of drugs being present. This is followed up with instrumentation tests to establish drug identity definitively and to identify the level of the drug(s) present.

GHB Testing in Products, Drink Glasses and Vomit
In terms of testing in products or drink glasses or bottles that are believed to have
contained GHB or its analogs, field test strips are available for GHB and GBL and finally
BD. As with all field test kits, they are merely indicators and would be followed up with
definitive instrumentation testing in the lab. Vomit is also a potentially valuable source of drug evidence in sexual assault as well as death cases.

GHB Analogs
It is commonly known that GHB is easily made from just two basic ingredients. Gamma butyrolactone (GBL) is converted to GHB most commonly by using sodium hydroxide (yes, drain cleaner). But GBL, a degreasing solvent or paint stripper, can be ingested directly and the human body rapidly converts the GBL to GHB. Thus GBL is considered an "analog" of GHB, a chemical cousin with the same effects. The second most common GHB analog is 1,4 butanediol (BD or BDO). While not easily converted to GHB "on the stove," BD can also be ingested directly and the human body will convert it to GHB. Since both GBL & BD convert to GHB in vitro, testing in biological samples is usually only done for GHB.