Synthetic urine and other products used to cheat drug testing can be purchased at stores in Franklin County.
The products are not illegal, easily accessible and if used correctly, can allow persons with drugs in their system to come back with negative results.
At a store in Washington, a 3-ounce supply of synthetic urine costs about $20 and a 2-ounce bottle of special shampoo designed to remove “toxins” from the hair costs about $15, a Missourian investigation revealed.
The urine and shampoo are usually kept behind the counters of stores or in a display case with other detox kits and elixirs designed to flush remnants of drugs out of the human body.
Eric Dobelmann, owner of Gateway Drug Testing in Union, says the synthetic urine has been on his radar for about a year.
“I don’t know what it is, or what it’s made of, but we’re seeing a lot more of it,” he said. “We are seeing three or four people per month trying to use it. It’s been mostly isolated to random testing at factories.”
Dobelmann said the synthetic urine will pass the lab testing, and the main reason people are caught is the temperature of the liquid.
“It’s either too hot or too cold,” he said. “There is a temperature strip on our testing cups that will tell right away.”
Excuses are often given that it is a hot or cold day or the person being tested just had a cold soda or hot cup of coffee.
A temperature strip also is on the bottle the fake urine is sold in. Hand warmers are actually included in the box with the synthetic urine to warm it to human body temperature to assist those attempting to cheat a drug test.
Directions on the packaging instruct the user to attach the heat pad with the enclosed rubber band and it will remain at the optimal 94 to 100 degrees up to eight hours.
“People buy it and keep it on them while working,” Dobelmann said. “Last year, we got word from a few places they had seen the bottles.”
Dobelmann said when his company performs random drug tests they ask management to not allow employees to go to their lockers or cars where they might retrieve the pre-purchased synthetic urine.
When hair is being tested, users of the detox shampoo are generally easy to spot as well, most commonly by sores on the scalp caused by excessive bleaching.
Gateway Drug Testing was founded about eight years ago and averages about 1,000 drug screenings per month. It is currently contracted with the Franklin County courts, as well as several private companies countywide.
Because of the introduction of hair and urine cheat kits, testing facilities are taking samples from other sources.
“Some courts are switching to fingernails and toenails,” Dobelmann said. “There’s no way to beat those.”
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks says there is really no legal action that can be taken against someone using the masking products.
“I don’t think there is anything we could charge them with,” he said. “It’s not illegal to possess it and if they use it to cheat a drug test there is really nothing I can do.”
Parks added the circumstances would change if the drug test was court ordered, but even then there wouldn’t be a new charge. Instead, the court would revoke parole or probation.
“People may be able to fake it once, but they will get caught,” he said. “They would either get fired or not get hired if they got caught.”
Parks said he’s aware of several types of products on the market, but feels trying to outlaw them would be difficult.
“There is an entire cottage industry for this stuff,” he said. “If people want to cheat, they are going to find some way to cheat a drug test. I don’t think we need any more laws.”
Currently, Missouri does not have any laws restricting the sales of synthetic urine and it does have uses other than cheating on drug tests.
It is packaged as an adult fetish novelty and also can be used to calibrate some drug-testing equipment.
Hundreds of similar detox products can be found online, as well as recipes for home production of synthetic urine.
Because of the other described uses, only about 15 states have passed laws restricting its sale.
In April, the governor of Indiana signed a bill making it a misdemeanor for store owners to knowingly sell products designed to fraudulently pass drug or alcohol tests.