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MI Drug Patch Testing

A reader submitted a copy of a MDOC memorandum from the acting warden of Egler Prison, in Jackson Michigan, which we quote in full:

AThis facility has been selected to participate in a Pilot Study of the PharmChem Sweat Patch as a means for testing drug abuse. Beginning in early December, all prisoners at this facility who are selected for drug testing by submitting a urine specimen will also be tested with the PharmChek Sweat Patch. The Pilot Study will last approximately six (6) months.

AThe patch is an absorbent pad contained in a hospital-like bandage worn on the upper arm or lower rib cage of the prisoner being tested. The patch is to be worn for a period of two weeks. At the end of the two week period the patch will be removed and an additional urine specimen will be requested.

ADuring the pilot period no misconduct reports will be written based on the sweat patch test results. Misconduct reports will be written when a prisoner refuses to allow the patch to be applied, removes it without authorization, or tampers with it. Also, misconduct reports will continue to be written for positive urine tests, and refusals to submit urine.

AAny problems experienced with wearing the patch should be reported to staff immediately. If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact your RUM/ARUM or Inspector Steward.

We also received a photocopy of MDOC Policy Directive 01.04.120 which is the current MDOC policy on the subject of AResearch involving Corrections Facilities or Clients which we will quote in part.

AIndividuals committed to the care and control of the Michigan Department of Corrections are presented with a situation in which their customary freedom is restricted in various ways. The restrictive features of the institutions make coercive relations between residents [they mean prisoners] and staff always a potential danger. Therefore. exceptional care must be exercised in protecting all prospective or actual research participants' freedom of choice. Such freedom of choice must be guaranteed for all potential subjects who are to participate actively in any research, even if that participation involves nothing more than answering questions or expressing opinion."

"Coercion of any sort is not to be allowed; the decision to participate or not participate in any research shall not result in any sanctions, penalties, or loss of privileges."

An article in the January Spectator, the newsletter published in Egler, gives further information about how the patch works. The article also states, "Although the FDA has approved the Patch, and clinical trials have shown little or no difficulty wearing it, many of the Egler inmates have reported side effects ranging from rashes and puffiness to sever headaches. The testing continues."

There was no mention in the letter from 'the reader who forwarded us the memorandum or in the Spectator about what efforts, if any, Egler prisoners have made to challenge this coercive medical experiment.

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