DOT wants to add common opioids to driver drug testing panel
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
Could lead to the FMCSA increasing random testing rates back to 50%
With the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) goal to harmonize with the Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines, the DOT proposed to add four commonly abused opioids: Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone to the driver drug testing panel in urine tests. The drugs are generally taken as pain pills.
The rule would also remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte from the existing drug testing panel.
Slated to take effect October 1st, 2017 (with an unknown implementation date), HHS indicated that approximately 1% of the submitted specimens is expected to be confirmed positive for the added opioids, according to non-regulated workplace drug testing in 2011 and 2012.
What does this mean for DOT regulated companies?
The biggest impact this proposed rule could have on DOT regulated companies is that this would increase the percentage of positive tests during Random testing.
As of Dec. 13th, 2016, the FMCSA will maintain its current 25% random drug testing rate of truck operators in 2017, meaning carriers will be required to randomly test 25% of their drivers in the calendar year.
For the random testing rate to go back up to 50%, by rule there must be one year where there is above 1% positive random testing rates among surveyed companies. The most recent data has shown an increasing trend and currently sits at 0.9% positives during random tests.
Adding these four common opioids, where HHS assumes 1% of those tested should come back positive, the random rate will easily be above the 1% threshold and potentially stay there for the foreseeable future.
HHS also estimates that the cost per urine test would be an additional $0.60 and a 3% increase in MRO costs as additional review and verifications would need to be conducted.
Having a valid MD prescription for a medication that contains any of these opioids and reporting that information at the time of testing will help the MRO in reviewing the results. Having the prescribed amount show positive in the test result will not be considered a positive test. However, if MROs notice an unnatural amount of the drug in a driver’s system, the MRO will likely want to ask more questions and could result in a positive drug test.
With the rise in opioid addiction, be sure to follow your medication instructions from your doctor.
Will the proposed rule move forward?
There’s no date set for when the proposed changes would take effect. Regarding the Trump Administration’s 60-day regulatory freeze on all recently published regulations for review, this proposed rule should not be affected because the rule is open for a 60-day comment period and this rule is safety related which is exempt from the Administration’s freeze.
Another Federal Register entry will be required by the DOT later this year to make the changes final and set a date for the changes to begin. Public comments will be accepted on the proposed changes until March 24.