Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Third-Party Drug-Test Providers Continue to Grow Nationwide: Demand Drives Franchise-Based Growth to Meet Individual, Employer, and Program Needs

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Third-Party Drug-Test Providers Continue to Grow Nationwide: Demand Drives Franchise-Based Growth to Meet Individual, Employer, and Program Needs

Article excerpt

According to laboratory testing giant LabCare, the market for clinical, anatomic, and genetic testing is $55 billion in the US and Canada alone. (1) Within that market, the revenue associated with drugs-of-abuse testing is set to jump from about $2.0 billion today to $2.7 billion by 2015--an increase of 26 percent--according to a recent TriMark Publications study. (2)

The demand for drug and alcohol testing program management enjoys a 20 percent annual growth rate, says the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). (3) It, along with groups like the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA), offers technical and training assistance to the 65 percent of US businesses that require drugs-of-abuse testing. Such testing began nearly 25 years ago when Congress passed the Drug Free Workplaces Act--a response to the recognition that substantial numbers of working Americans were abusing alcohol and substances.

At the time, when employers sought help with new workplace drug testing concerns, they had to build it in-house in their HR departments or turn to local businesses and consultancies that emerged to fill the new role of Third Party Administrators (TPAs). TPAs would, for a fee, manage drug-test programs--everything from planning on-site sample collections to administering random-test selections, to arranging sample processing with accredited test laboratories, tracking results, and helping to keep their employer customers out of court.

A growing role in the workplace

Years later, the third-party test management business continues to evolve. Employer needs have grown beyond drugs-of-abuse testing to background checks and wellness-management programs. Mobile sample collection capabilities are essential to minimize the loss of work time. Many employers also seek assistance and referrals to treatment for employees who test positive for substances.

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To meet the growing demand for localized test management expertise, a number of organizations now franchise these capabilities to local entrepreneurs. Some franchises are based on a mobile-only model, while others combine both office and mobile capabilities. Among the latter group of franchisors is ARCpoint Labs, a14-year-old laboratory testing firm from Greenville, SC. ARCpoint began selling franchises in 2005 and has since seen its local franchise owners launch businesses at 58 locations.

"We it the bill for a lot of small to medium size companies, as well as individuals," says Byron Berry, ARCpoint Labs' VP of national sales and marketing. He notes that ARCpoint Labs' core services are built around drug screens to meet federal DOT standards, but have since grown into a wider range of drug, alcohol, DNA, wellness, and other tests, plus other compliance and employment-related services.

Urine tests remain typical for workplace drug screens, he says. In many states--de pending on state laws--technicians may employ a dip or "rapid" test using one of several, prepackaged test panels or a custom panel developed with input from the employer. The most popular screen is a five-panel urine rapid test for common drugs of abuse, followed by a ten or 12-panel that adds often-abused prescription medications, including opiates and benzodiazepines, for example. …

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