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U.S. DOT to Require Drug Testing for 4 Opioids

On November 13, 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule (82 FR 52229) that added hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone to the federal drug testing program for drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2018, drivers will be tested for these substances, commonly known as OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®. The DOT drug testing panel already includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates.

DOT drug testing regulations and subsequent revisions have typically concurred with workplace testing programs established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). DOT, like HHS, decided to include these semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to "address the nation-wide epidemic of opioid abuse." DOT also noted that the drugs are already included in tests conducted by many transportation employers' non-DOT testing programs.

Just as with any other confirmed positive drug test result, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) will conduct an interview to determine the presence of a legitimate medical explanation for the result. The MRO will review a driver's prescription to determine its validity. A legitimate medical explanation will result in a "negative" report to the employer. Otherwise, a "positive" result will be reported to the employer.

An employer that receives a verified positive drug test result must immediately remove the employee from safety-sensitive functions. A return to safety-sensitive functions is not permitted until the return-to-duty process is completed.

For more information concerning the recently published final rule, please see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/Part_40_Final_Rule_Summary_of_Changes  and https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/Part_40_DOT_Employee_Notice_2017 .

For more information concerning the verification process by a Medical Review Officer, please see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40/40_131 .

For more information concerning an employer's responsibility following the receipt of verified test results, please see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40/40_23 .

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