September 29th, 2023 - For Immediate Release

Scott Company Drug Testing, LLC supports its clients, particularly the hard-working men and women of law enforcement, who tirelessly risk their own lives in the most dangerous theaters of narcotics and vice. We are grateful for your selfless service, and honored to be a provider of scientific tools to aid in that principled endeavor.

Additionally, we recognize and appreciate the hard work of defense attorneys who work ardently to defend their clients and protect their constitutional rights. We are very rightfully a nation of “innocent until proven guilty” by a court of law, and are grateful to those who defend these principles.

The implication that our A-2 Scott Cocaine Reagent Cocaine Residue Swab product is “faulty” is inaccurate. The reagent test is not conceived, designed, manufactured, and/or sold in a manner that is deficient, unreliable or inaccurate. Since its inception in 1974, the chemical reaction that makes the product function as intended has always done and will always do what it is designed to do - to detect the presence of cocaine, within the scope of the laws of chemistry that govern its reactions. While we strive be fully transparent and respectfully acknowledge the limitations of the laws of chemistry that the product is subject to, the media depiction of the test as "faulty" is wholly inaccurate.

Additionally, please note that to date, no litigation, either against us, or involving the use of our products by our clients, has resulted in a decision for the plaintiff. The Scott Company reagent test has never been found to be faulty or inaccurate in any respect.

The Scott Company reagent tests, like most tests, are presumptive tests. This means that they are drug test kits and residue swabs used to presumptively identify the presence of narcotics and controlled substances.

In medical and forensic science, a presumptive test is an analysis of a sample, which establishes either:

A) The sample is definitely not a certain substance, or
B) The sample probably is the substance.

The presence of a substance, even presence at a trace level, can be detected by a presumptive test.
In this case, pertinent examples include the cobalt thiocyanate test (Scott Reagent) for cocaine, the Duquenois reagent for marijuana, and the Marquis reagent for narcotics.

Other reagents for specific drugs are also available. Reagents used by Scott Company to determine the presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances are listed in the 2005 National Institute of Justice Color Test Reagents/Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse: NIJ Standard–0604.01 (Dept of Justice)

These tests, and others like them, are presumptive tests, and can generally be used to establish the probable cause necessary to effect an arrest for the possession of an illegal drug or other controlled substance. An additional confirmatory test can be used after the presumptive test report is positive for the substance to confirm the substance's identity or to measure the percentage purity or other quantitative analysis.

Presumptive field test kits are engineered to detect one (or more) specific substances and display a specific reaction appropriate to that particular substance. While presumptive testing is extremely reliable, faster, and less expensive than other methods of testing, it is possible (though unlikely) to receive a false positive result under certain conditions, when certain substances are introduced into the presumptive test. We strongly advise the individual officer and appropriate agencies to use common sense and evaluate the totality of the circumstances before making an arrest.

Because of this, we recommend that, in an effort both to aid the prosecution and to protect the legal and constitutional rights of the accused, confirmation of the composition of any substance tested should be made using a confirmatory testing method (such as a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)) to obtain a confirmed analytical result before final charges are filed against an individual suspected of the sale, delivery, manufacture or possession of the suspected illegal drug or other controlled substance.

In this particular situation, there are some important factors that need to be clarified:

#1) The WHO estimates there are more than 160 million chemicals known to humans. About 40,000 to 60,000 of them can be found in commerce; 6000 of these account for more than 99% of the total volume of chemicals in commerce globally. Our tests (and those like them) are typically designed to detect only one chemical, though some (like the Marquis Reagent, which is typically utilized to detect opiates) are proven to reliably detect more than one known drug. Accordingly, it is not feasible, practical or even possible to test every single one of these chemicals in any specific field test to determine all of the possible outcomes. This is true for all manufactures in this industry.

In this particular case, many of the actual substances in question are actually non-reactive in and of themselves. However, several of the exterior coatings of the actual tablets tested (and ostensibly thousands of other similarly coated tablets like them) are reactive to a limited extent. Without knowing the chemical composition of the tablet coatings it is virtually impossible to predict in advance which component chemicals contained within ANY tablet coating may react with the Scott Cocaine Reagent (or other reagents) to produce a false positive.

#2) Scott Company Drug Testing, LLC relies upon reagents used to determine the probable presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances that are listed in the 2005 National Institute of Justice Color Test Reagents/Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse: NIJ Standard–0604.01 (Dept of Justice). Note: While this document has been the gold standard for the composition and usage of presumptive field testing kits for over 40 years, it has remained mostly unchanged since its development in 1974.

#3) To the best of our knowledge, there is not a single presumptive field test made anywhere in the world, by any manufacturer, that will show a specific color result (a positive) result, for cocaine (and/or its analogues) and ONLY cocaine (and/or its analogues). The chemical structure of this drug and/or its analogues simply does not lend itself to a singular, consistent reaction to ONLY itself when applied to a specific combination of known chemicals. As a direct result, there is no test specifically for cocaine alone - only a few known tests that, incidentally, cocaine happens to present a known reaction in. Because of this shortcoming in the laws of chemistry, it IS possible that a false positive result can occur. This is not unique to the Scott Company reagent.

#4) Illegal drugs are often mixed with other substances to increase their volume, and accordingly, the profit margin derived through their sale. It is generally impossible to know what substances the illegal drugs may be “cut” or mixed with without the use of a GCMS (Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry) machine. It is possible that some of the substances that the illegal drugs are mixed with could produce a false positive result for one particular drug.

#5) Because at this point there are some varieties (in some cases, over 30) of over-the-counter substances that have indeed yielded false positive results, and neither the state lab nor any private lab (NMS) used by the arresting agency has divulged to us (Scott Company Drug Testing, LLC) what exactly the encountered substances were, we have no way of knowing, for future reference, what to warn the officers in regard to every particular possible false positive.

#6) While we are aware that some substances can, under certain circumstances (because of the reasons mentioned in section #1 above) produce a false positive result in a select few of our tests, we will only disclose these to law enforcement. We do this to prevent the adulteration of substances in an effort to alter the chemical content of the substance to compromise the result of a presumptive field test, affecting the totality of the circumstances that an officer must evaluate before making an arrest. We feel that this would be providing aid to those engaged in the sale, delivery, manufacture, or possession of the suspected illegal drug or other controlled substance.

#7) We believe that the arresting officers, command staff and district attorneys office acted in good faith, and that (because of the reasons mentioned in section #1 above) any unfortunate incidents of potentially false positive results do not negate the good faith. Arrests are made on probable cause based on the totality of the circumstances and false positives are not completely avoidable. This is exactly why confirmatory testing methods (such as a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)) to obtain a confirmed analytical result should be used before final charges for indictment are filed against an individual.

#8) The use of presumptive field tests is also designed to protect the accused from false arrest, specifically from an officer who may have little to no training, knowledge, or expertise, based on an incorrect assumption that the alleged suspect may be in the possession of an illegal drug or controlled substance, when that reality that is not in fact true. Presumptive field tests can, and should, prevent false arrests when substances that are NOT either illegal or controlled fail to show a positive result. 

#9) Please note that all presumptive field test kits, regardless of manufacturer, are not immune to the possibility of false positives, including those currently or formerly manufactured and sold under the trade names NIK, Sirche, NARK, ODV, and Armor Holdings. The chemical reagents across the spectrum of all manufacturers are not materially different; generally the only difference is the packaging of the product itself.

#10) Please note that neither Scott Company Drug Testing, nor I personally, would ever intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently manufacture, sell, or otherwise distribute any any product that materially increases the chances of an innocent person being arrested. We take all possible precautions to ensure that our reagents are properly prepared, packaged, and sold in full compliance with the most up-to-date science and legal findings made available to us, and make improvements to our tests whenever possible to reduce false positives and to enhance officer safety when possible.

Finally, law enforcement professionals must always seek to remain cognizant of the potential for false positive and/or false negative results, and base arrests on sufficient probable cause based on the totality of the circumstances. Additionally, potential offenders should be forewarned that materially changing the appearance of certain substances to coincide with alleged or otherwise probable illegal activity may substantially increase their chances of arrest (but not necessarily conviction) due the the possibility of a false positive result adding to any probable cause that may already exist.

I hope that this press release was informative and helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any additional assistance, and best wishes from us to all parties involved.

Ian J. Scott
Scott Company Drug Testing, LLC