Plasma donation centers have varying policies when it comes to drug testing donors. Some centers require a drug test before allowing donations, while others do not drug test at all. If you are considering donating plasma, it is important to understand which centers drug test and what you can expect from the screening process. This article provides an overview of drug testing policies at major plasma donation companies.
Overview of Drug Testing for Plasma Donations
Drug testing for plasma donations is done to ensure the safety of the donation process as well as the quality of the plasma. Certain illicit drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs can impact the plasma or the donor’s health.
Some of the key things to know about drug tests for plasma donations:
- Urine tests are the most common method, testing for drugs including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine.
- Blood tests can also detect drug use but are less common.
- Drug tests are typically done at the first visit and then periodically after that. Frequency varies by center.
- Donors who test positive may be permanently deferred or temporarily suspended for a period of time.
- Drug testing policies are determined by each individual plasma center. There are no federal laws requiring testing.
Now let’s take a look at the drug testing policies of the major plasma collection companies.
CSL Plasma centers require a urine drug test at the first donation and periodically after that. Donors are tested for:
If a donor tests positive, they will be permanently deferred from donating at CSL Plasma locations.
CSL states that they drug test to ensure the safety of donors as well as the quality of the plasma collected. Certain illicit drugs can impact health and plasma quality.
Grifols also requires a urine drug test at the first donation and periodically after. They test for the same drugs as CSL Plasma.
If a donor tests positive at Grifols, they may face a permanent deferral. However, Grifols notes that in some cases they may allow individuals to return after a period of time if they can provide documentation of treatment and recovery.
BioLife Plasma Services
BioLife Plasma Services centers conduct urine drug tests at the first donation and randomly during subsequent visits. Their testing panels cover:
For the safety of donors and plasma supply, BioLife permanently defers individuals who test positive from donating.
Octapharma Plasma has a urine drug testing program in place at the first donation and periodically after. They test for:
Donors who test positive are permanently deferred from donating plasma at Octapharma.
Plasma Centers That Do Not Drug Test
While many plasma centers drug test, not all do. Plasma collection organizations that do not drug test donors include:
- OneBlood – OneBlood does not drug test donors at any of their plasma collection centers.
- Red Cross – The Red Cross does not perform drug tests on plasma donors.
- LifeSouth Community Blood Centers – LifeSouth does not drug test donors. However, they do screen potential donors and may defer based on illicit drug use.
These plasma centers have opted out of drug testing donors to remove barriers to donating plasma. However, donors may still be screened about drug use to ensure donor health and plasma quality.
Why Drug Testing is Done
There are a few key reasons plasma donation centers drug test donors:
- Safety – Illicit drugs can impact the health of donors. Testing helps screen unwell donors.
- Plasma quality – Drugs can be harmful to plasma proteins or impact the composition. Testing ensures quality.
- Regulations – Although not federally mandated, some states or centers impose drug testing regulations.
- Recipient safety – Keeping drugs out of the plasma supply ensures safety when plasma is transfused.
While drug testing has its purposes in plasma donations, centers have different philosophies on the necessity and benefits of mandatory testing for all donors.
What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test
If you fail a drug test at a center that does test for illicit substances, you will most likely be prohibited from donating. Here is an overview of the typical policies:
- Permanent deferral – Most centers permanently ban donors who fail for illicit or illegal drugs. You will not be able to donate at that center chain again.
- Temporary deferral – Some centers may allow you to return after a period of time, such as 12 months, if you can prove sobriety. However, policies vary greatly.
- Confidential results – Your test results are kept confidential and not shared externally.
- Center discretion – Some centers allow exceptions and review failed tests on a case-by-case basis. But policies are strict at most.
If plasma donation is important to you, avoiding illegal drug use is necessary to qualify as a donor at centers conducting drug screening.
How Drug Use Can Affect Plasma Eligibility
It’s not just failed drug tests that can impact eligibility – disclosing illegal drug use can also lead to deferral. Here are key points on how drug use affects plasma donations:
- Illegal drug use, even without a failed test, can lead to deferral. Many centers ask about drug use history.
- Certain prescription medications for addiction treatment like methadone can disqualify donors.
- Previous injection drug users may be prohibited for a period of time due to infection risks.
- Recent marijuana use can be disqualifying due to lingering effects on plasma.
- Cocaine use can lead to deferral because it elevates white blood cell levels for a period of time after use.
Always be truthful with screening questions. Drug use puts your eligibility at risk even if you pass a drug test on donation day.
Types of Drug Tests Used
If you are donating at a center that drug tests, it is helpful to understand the different methods used for screening:
- Urine tests are the most common and are used to detect recent drug use by measuring drug metabolites.
- Blood tests directly measure drugs or metabolites but are less common. They detect current impairment.
- Saliva tests can detect very recent drug use but have a shorter window of detection. They are rarely used.
- Hair testing can detect long-term drug use but are not commonly used due to high costs.
Make sure you understand the detection windows for various drugs in the testing method used by your plasma center. This can help you avoid failing screening.
Passing an Upcoming Drug Test
If you have an upcoming drug test for a plasma donation, there are a few options:
- Defer donating until you are sure illicit drugs clear your system.
- Switch to a center that does not drug test, if one is accessible.
- Abstain from drug use for as long as possible beforehand.
- Use detoxification methods to try clearing drug metabolites from your urine or blood.
- Purchase synthetic or clean urine and use for your test if allowed in your state.
- Consider getting help for drug addiction problems to permanently qualify to donate.
Ideally, avoiding illegal drug use is the safest option for your health and plasma eligibility. Speak to a center’s staff for guidance if you are unsure how to pass an upcoming test.
Questions to Ask Your Plasma Center
If you are considering donating plasma at a center that drug tests, make sure to ask detailed questions so you know what to expect:
- Do you conduct drug testing on all donors or only periodically?
- What method(s) of drug testing do you use – urine, blood, etc?
- What specific drugs do you screen donors for with your test?
- What happens if a donor fails a drug test or admits to illegal drug use?
- Are there any exceptions to drug policies for special circumstances?
- How long do I need to be sober from marijuana or other drugs to qualify as a donor?
- Do you prohibit donors who are prescribed certain addiction medications like methadone or suboxone?
Being informed on a center’s drug testing requirements for plasma donations can help you decide where to donate or how to pass screening.
The Bottom Line
Policies related to drug screening vary widely among plasma donation centers in the U.S. Some centers mandate testing for all donors, while others abstain completely. If you hope to donate plasma, it is imperative that you contact your local centers directly and ask questions to learn about drug test policies. Avoiding illegal substances for a period beforehand is wise to safely