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DOT Issues Final Rule Amending Drug Testing Policies

On January 1, 2018, the Department of Transportation’s final rule amending its drug testing program goes into effect.  In an effort to more closely align with the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the rule clarifies existing drug testing program provisions, makes technical amendments, and removes certain requirements for employers.

The new rule adds certain semi-synthetic opioids including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone, commonly referred to as OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo® to the drug testing panel in response to the “nation-wide epidemic of opioid abuse.”  The rule also adds methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte, while removing testing for MDEA from the existing drug testing panel.

In terms of the collection process, employers will no longer be required to submit blind specimens.  Additionally, three more “fatal flaws” have been added to the current list of reasons when a lab would reject a specimen.  Those flaws include situations where:

(1) there is no Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF);

(2) two separate collections were performed using one CCF; and

(3) there was no specimen submitted to the laboratory with the CCF.

The rule also addresses the increased uncertainty surrounding medical marijuana by clarifying the term “prescription,” as a Schedule II prescribed pharmaceutical.  As such, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) may not accept a medical marijuana authorization, medical card, or recommendation as a valid prescription, regardless of state law.

Employers who are subject to DOT standards should make the appropriate changes to their drug testing policies prior to the January 1st effective date.  Further, employers who comply with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing should also review their policies to determine if revisions are now necessary.

Full text of 49 CFR Part 40.

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