On October 25, 2019, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS, published the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs – Oral/Fluid (OFMG) that established scientific and technical guidelines that allow for the inclusion of oral fluid specimens in federal executive branch agencies’ drug testing programs.

OFMG establishes standards and technical requirements for oral fluid collection devices, initial oral fluid drug test analytes and methods, confirmatory oral fluid drug test analytes and methods, processes for review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), and requirements for federal agency actions. The effective date is January 1, 2020.

These guidelines would serve as the basis for the technical requirements if the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) wishes to incorporate oral fluid drug testing into their requirements. However, separate rulemaking would be required.

Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science & Technology, Quest Diagnostics, reviewed the new guidelines and shared some important points for employers to consider. 

Key information about the new oral fluid guidelines

  • The new guidelines only apply to the Federal workforce in testing-designated positions. Oral fluid is not yet authorized for DOT or NRC testing.
  • The Federal Custody and Control Form (CCF) will likely be revised to include oral fluid.
  • Laboratories must obtain SAMHSA certification for oral fluid testing before conducting federal oral fluid drug testing.
  • FDA-clearance is required for all oral fluid collection devices used for federal testing.
  • MROs and collectors will need additional training about the guideline revisions.
  • Implementation of these guidelines is estimated to take approximately 12 to 18 months.

Benefits of oral fluid drug testing

Laboratory-based oral fluid drug testing offers accurate detection of recent drug use. While it has a slightly shorter window of detection than urine, it demonstrates a higher positivity rate for almost all drugs and more than twice the positivity rate for marijuana. Oral fluid testing is facilitated with an observed collection, which discourages cheating and tampering by a donor. Collections are simple and a specimen can be collected at the worksite which adds convenience and time savings.

Learn more about the advantages of oral fluid drug testing.

Download our oral fluid drug testing white paper.

Read the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs – Oral/Fluid.

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