(QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A new device created by a China-based company, Shenzhen Superbio Technology Company, has partnered with Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corporation in Greensboro to distribute a piece of technology in the United States that detects fentanyl in urine.

The National Institute of Health reports that deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, primarily fentanyl, continued to rise, with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021. It aims to save more of those lives.

“It works very similar to a COVID test, [in] which everybody [is] used to, [just] dropping three drops of urine on a little white strip. You [then] place it [in] the analyzer, and within five minutes … you have fentanyl results,” said Pattie Shugart, Chief Operating Officer for Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corporation. 

“The Detection Kit is a fluorescence immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of fentanyl in human urine at a cutoff concentration of 1.0 ng/mL. The assay is intended for use with Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corp. immunofluorescence analyzer RYAN. The test provides a preliminary test result; a more specific alternative chemical method must be used in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result. The Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corp. immunofluorescence analyzer, RYAN, is a portable fluorescence instrument for in vitro diagnostic use only. The analyzer is designed to perform in vitro diagnostic tests on clinical urine specimens. This analyzer can be used in a laboratory or in a point-of-care setting,” the press release says. 

North Carolina had more than 4,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021, the highest on record for a single year.

And across the border, South Carolina saw a 35% increase in deaths from 2020 to 2021.

The device could be used in emergency situations.

“We know that it’s needed in the community because… to get a fentanyl test any other way it would take 30 minutes. And LCMS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) [it] could take hours to get back a result. This way you can get back screening results within six minutes,” she said. 

NYC Health says, “Even though most people think that overdoses are immediate, most overdoses occur 1 to 3 hours after the drug is taken. Only about 1 in 8 [overdoses] happen immediately after the drug is taken.

Shugart says the point of the device is to create change, not only in the Carolinas but across the nation as well.

“A child comes in with poison; it’s a poison control issue. They don’t know what it is. And if they could test and get that six-minute result and know it’s fentanyl, boy, you know that that might save a life. And so, you know, if we save one life, we’ve done our job,” she said.

“To achieve as low as a 1 ng/ml cutoff is very challenging, and I’m very proud that our R&D team made a great technical breakthrough,” says Elaine Zhang, the General Manager of Bioeasy USA. Ms. Zhang continued, “Now that the abuse of Fentanyl use has been causing serious problems, I deeply hope this product can help to fight the drug threat in the USA!”