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Opioids Added To DOT Drug Tests

In an effort to stay up to date on America’s latest drug scourge, the U.S. Department of Transportation has added several new drugs to the testing regimen for transportation employees.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, testing conducted by employers must add four semi-synthetic opioids – hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone – to their drug testing panel.

Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) also was added to the panel and DOT removed methylenedioxyethylamphetaime (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte as redundant because MDA is a metabolite for MDEA.

DOT had required a five-panel drug test – heroin, amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine and PCP – for those holding safety-sensitive transportation jobs.

“Inclusion of these four semi-synthetic opioids is intended to help address the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse,” DOT explained when it announced the new regulations.

The department observed that the four drugs are “already tested for in many transportation employers’ non-DOT testing programs because of their widespread use and potentially impairing effect.”

In addition, the new rule adds three “fatal flaws” to the list of occurrences when a laboratory would reject and discard a specimen.

The rule also modifies the “shy bladder” process to allow the drug test collector to discard certain questionable specimens and proceed under the shy bladder process for the second specimen.

It also drops the requirement for consortium/third-party administrators to submit blind specimens, saying that this extra step is unneeded and imposes unnecessary administrative burdens and costs.

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