What is the difference between a single-panel drug test and a multi-panel drug test such as a 5-panel or 10-panel test? The difference is the quantity of substances the test is designed to check for. A single panel drug test is a system to check for one specific substance or substance class. Common configurations for single panel drug tests include; Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Buprenorphine, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Opiates, Anabolic steroids, Marijuana, and other substances. While multi-panel drug tests check for multiple distinct drug types at the same time using the same test specimen. Multi-panel drug test kits come in various testing combinations, these tests are often favored by employers or organizations that need general substance screening systems. 

How to Pick the Right Test for You?

The question of which drug test kit will fit your needs the best relies on the intended use and the setting the test will be used in. For example, if you were looking for an at-home test that you could use for yourself or a scenario where you know the exact substance you are checking for then purchasing a single panel drug test that solely tests for that substance would be preferable. In most scenarios however, drug tests are applied as screening systems where broad panel kits make the most sense. If you or your organization, as the test administrators, need to test for a combination of substances, either for pre-employment, preventing accidents, complying with state or federal regulations, health-care insurance, and any other requirements your organization must satisfy, a multi-panel test makes the most sense. A multi-panel test such as a 10-panel test will ensure that the results are comprehensive in terms of checking for substance-use. 

Are Multi-Panel Drug Tests as Accurate as Single Panel Drug Tests?

Accuracy in drug tests ranges based on the types of substances, the test kit system and manufacturer, the application and results collection method, and based on the type of specimen collected and tested. Accuracy of a drug test also relies on the drugs you are testing for, this may sound obvious but a drug test’s accuracy is limited to the substances it has panels for. If a test is only for THC it will not register opiates. Which means that merely in the sense of testing for a broad range of substances the multi-panel test would prove more effective in most scenarios due to its general approach. 

Multi-Panel drug tests have strips with labels for each substance type. Each strip represents a particular substance or drug class. If the specimen triggers one of the strips in the test it will generally mark a line on the particular strip that was triggered, allowing the test administrator to send it to a lab for further testing with an understanding of what drug classes to focus on.

What Are Multi-Panel Drug Tests?

Multi-Panel drug testing kits are usually on-site immunoassay test systems that use antibodies to detect various drug classes in a single specimen collection. Multi-Panel drug tests are available in pre-made or custom panel combinations ranging anywhere from 2-20 drug classes, with common and popular test kit models focusing on 5-panel, 10-panel, and 12-panel configurations. 

What Are Single Panel Drug Tests?

Single-panel drug tests are drug tests that test for one particular substance or drug class. “Single-panel” refers to the design of the test system; these drug test systems usually feature a solitary detection panel. 1-panel tests are made for specific substances for on-site or lab drug testing systems.