US DOT Drug Testing Panel to Include Opioid Drugs

July 20, 2017

On October 17, 2017 the DOT drug screening will begin to test for hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone as part of the 5-panel urine test, collectively known as synthetic opiates.

“Historically, DOT drug screening has set the standard for drug testing for employers across the US. Employers with a drug screening program will likely follow the DOT’s lead and begin testing for opioids, too,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician David Gude, MD.

Nearly 8 million people performing safety sensitive transportation jobs are covered by federal drug and alcohol regulations. These include pilots, truck drivers, subway operators, ship captains, pipeline controllers, airline mechanics, locomotive engineers, bus drivers, and armed security, among others.

“Considering the effects of prescription pain medicine and its proliferate abuse across America, I consider the expanded drug testing a good, protective measure for public good –but believe there will be many questions to answer as the process commences in October,” said Gude.

 What’s prompting the DOT expanded screening for opioids?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, from 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance abuse disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate.

In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.

Why do employers participate in pre-employment drug testing and random drug testing?

Pre-employment drug testing and random drug testing provide employers the ability to hire appropriate personnel for a position, but also identify employees who are at risk.

According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, substance abuse negatively affects U.S. industry through lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism, low morale, and increased illness. U.S. companies lose billions of dollars a year because of employees’ alcohol and drug use and related problems.

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