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Judge Affirms Drug Testing Patches

November 1, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ A federal judge Friday rejected a bid for freedom from a jailed man who disputed the reliability of a drug-testing adhesive patch that detected cocaine in his system.

U.S. District Judge William Young said five of Henry Alfonso’s six positive tests for cocaine appeared reliable.

Alfonso, 32, of Fall River, was arrested in December on charges of dealing the prescription painkiller OxyContin. He was released on bail but was sent back to jail in July after the patches he had to wear on his arm as a condition of his release showed the presence of cocaine.

The patches, which absorb sweat and test it for drugs, are used in more than 40 federal court districts.

Alfonso claimed that he tested positive because of cocaine residue left in his apartment by a previous tenant, or because of traces of cocaine on cash his wife brought home from her job as a stripper.

PharmChem Inc., a Texas company that makes the patches, said it would take more than the trace amounts described by Alfonso to create a positive reading.

Federal courts in at least two districts _ in New York and Nevada _ have stopped using the patches because of questions about reliability.

Alfonso is scheduled to stand trial next month on the OxyContin charges.

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