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Fingerprint drug screening research trials begin in Finland


Intelligent Fingerprinting, along with addiction medicine experts at the University of Eastern Finland and Addoz Oy, have announced the launch of a research study aimed at drug rehabilitation treatment for opioid-dependent patients, which uses fingerprint biometrics.

According to the stakeholders, the project, which both tests drug levels and uses biometrics to identify patients, is backed by a $US 1.4 million (€1 million) grant from Eurostars, a program for funding research and development initiatives within SMEs across Europe.

Opioid substitution treatment involves the prescription of a regular dosage of opioid substitution medicine, usually buprenorphine or methadone, to patients with opioid dependence, such as heroin addiction. The oral medication is longer lasting and less euphoric than illegal intravenous opioid drugs and suppresses a patient’s craving for heroin.

The project’s clinical validation study will take place at the Addiction Psychiatry Unit at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland, led by Dr. Ulrich Tacke, Professor of Addiction Medicine.

OST patients usually have to make frequent visits to their clinic or, in some countries, to a pharmacy to take their medication under observation. They must also provide regular urine samples for analysis to check adherence to the OST programme and avoidance of illicit drugs. A member of the treatment staff observes the collection of each urine sample to reduce the possibility of a patient adulterating or switching samples in order to alter their test result.

This research program hinges on technology from Intelligent Fingerprinting, which consists of a portable fingerprint drug screening device that captures patient identity as well as collects a sweat sample for multiple drug tests. According to the company, this solution cuts down on the time it takes to process OST patient samples, and also avoids the risks associated with handling blood and urine.

Intelligent Fingerprinting expects its new portable fingerprint device to go into production in early 2014.

“Our technology is particularly important for patients on long-term medication such as OST with buprenorphine, including take-home allowances, as it limits the risk of overdose and diversion,” Juha Heinämäki, Managing Director of Addoz said. “It also enables treatment staff to devote their time to other aspects of patient care and rehabilitation. The impact of our technology could be far reaching in terms of the potential cost savings to society as a result of more efficiently managed, more effective treatment programmes.”

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