Drugs & Alcohol

Revisions to Federal Workplace Drug Testing

by Nicole Jupe on February 10, 2017

On January 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. More specifically, the notice expanded federal urine workplace drug testing to include four Schedule II drugs: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The effective date for the revised Guidelines is October 1, 2017. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) also published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend 49 CFR Part 40 to harmonize with HHS to expand its federal drug testing panel. There is a 60-day comment period with a deadline of March 24, 2017 for these DOT proposed rules.

In addition to adding four Schedule II opioids to regulated drug testing programs, the notices included several minor changes: adding MDA as an initial test analyte and removing MDEA for confirmatory testing. The revised HHS Guidelines also raise the lower pH cutoff from 3 to 4 to identify an adulterated specimen and allow the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to recommend the collection of an oral fluid specimen in certain situations, as permitted by agency policy. The proposed DOT rules would also eliminate the requirement for employer blind specimen testing and updates some MRO training/re-certification requirements.

We wanted to answer some of your most common questions regarding this announcement.

  • When will the DOT require these Schedule II drugs as part of its panel?
    The public comments on the proposed DOT rules are due March 24, 2017. It is anticipated that the DOT will publish rules that are harmonized with HHS with an effective date of October 1, 2017. This timing would be dependent on the number and content of the comments as well as the regulatory process.
  • What will be the name of this drug test panel?
    Based on the past implementation of the August 16, 2010 (effective October 1, 2011) harmonized DOT rules that added additional analytes, the DOT still considered the test a “5‑panel” drug test. Until the final rules are published, the name of the revised drug test panel is unknown. However, Quest Diagnostics will utilize a new order code for this new drug test panel. All of our DOT ordering accounts will be automatically updated to this new order code and panel name on the effective date of the new rules.
  • Can I start testing our DOT employees now? What about non-regulated drug testing?
    No because changes may still be made to DOT or other regulated drug testing until the effective date of their respective requirements. Non-regulated testing of prescription (“expanded”) opiates is already permitted in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations. Approximately 15 percent of our non-regulated opiate drug testing currently includes these prescription opiates.

We work to continually refine our laboratory testing to comply with changing regulations and as part of our commitment to quality and scientific innovation. Stay up to date with this regulation and other industry news on our website, blog, and social media communities.

Read the HHS revised guidelines in the Federal Register

We encourage everyone to read the DOT Proposed Rules and comment.

View the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ for urine testing positivity data.

For more information, contact your sales representative or contact us online.

Sobering Facts about the Repeal of Obamacare

by Steve Beller on January 30, 2017

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in decades. While more than 20 million Americans are covered by the ACA, many have vocalized concerns over the cost and effectiveness of the legislation. With the outcome of November’s election, Congress and President Trump are working to repeal the ACA. As a result, people with addiction and mental health disorders, as well as their families and treatment providers, are wondering how patients will maintain their sobriety if the ACA is repealed.

In a recent article in the USA Today, the American Psychiatric Association was quoted as saying, “the people helped the most by the ACA are the ones most likely to suffer from poor mental health and addiction. Nearly 30% of those who got coverage through Medicaid expansion have a mental disorder, such as anxiety or schizophrenia, or an addiction to substances, such as opioids or alcohol, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

In terms of real numbers, The Hill recently published excerpts from a report by two researchers from New York University and Harvard Medical School. The report read, “roughly 2.8 million Americans have a substance use disorder, 222,000 of whom are battling an opioid disorder and would lose some or all of their coverage if the ACA is repealed. To put this in dollar terms, repealing the mental and substance use disorder coverage provisions of the ACA would withdraw at least $5.5 billion annually from the treatment of low income people with mental and substance use disorders.”

In his campaign, President Trump promised to take control of the heroin and opioid epidemic in the U.S. However, some experts are concerned whether this can be accomplished if Obamacare is repealed.

For information on drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

DUI Rates in the U.S. Hit New Low

January 27, 2017 Drugs & Alcohol

Dating back decades, our society has brought awareness to the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and encouraged people to seek safe, sober transportation options. Research shows that alcohol as well as marijuana and other illicit substances weakens reaction times, motor skills, and perception and may lead to reckless driving and […]

Read the full article →

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Aims to Make Roads Safer

December 8, 2016 Drug Testing

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule that “establishes a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truck and bus drivers. The clearinghouse database will serve as a central repository containing records of violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program by commercial driver’s license (CDL) […]

Read the full article →

Some Drug Users Can’t Distinguish Between Right and Wrong

August 17, 2016 Illicit drugs

Aside from being dangerous and highly addictive, cocaine and methamphetamine may also affect the moral judgment of users. Results from a recent study conducted by Psychopharmacology – an international journal that covers the elucidating mechanisms by which drugs affect behavior – revealed that habitual cocaine and methamphetamine users can have difficulty distinguishing between right and […]

Read the full article →

Synthetic Cannabinoid Overdoses Spike

August 16, 2016 Synthetic drugs

Synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana) have been problematic since variations of these substances were first identified in the U.S. in 2008.  Recently, CNN reported that “the number of cases of poisoning from synthetic marijuana rose sharply in the past year.” These findings were released by the ToxIC Case Registry, a monitoring and research tool established by the […]

Read the full article →

DEA Report Details Heroin Threat

July 1, 2016 News

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published the 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary on June 27, 2016, detailing the threat of heroin and opioid drug abuse in the United States. Heroin is now available in larger quantities, it is being used by a greater number of people, and it is causing an increasing number […]

Read the full article →

Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day

June 23, 2016 Illicit drugs

Drug trafficking, once viewed largely as a social and criminal problem, has transformed in recent years into a major threat to the health and safety of citizens in every country. In an effort to create international awareness about the abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) established […]

Read the full article →

The United Kingdom has the Highest Cocaine Use in Europe

June 22, 2016 Illicit drugs

Often associated with rock stars and the “social elite,” cocaine has a long history of use dating back to its origins as a medicinal compound in the late 19th century. Cocaine use reached its peak during the disco era in the 1970s and 80s. Recently, there has been a resurgence of cocaine use, and its […]

Read the full article →

Drugged Drivers Pose a Serious Threat

June 20, 2016 News

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), motorists now view drivers, who are under the influence of illicit drugs, as bigger threats to their safety than those driving under the influence of alcohol. Data from the survey revealed the following insights: 74 percent of motorists think people driving after using […]

Read the full article →