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New DOT drug testing panel to take effect January 1, 2018

In response to the current opioid crisis, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has made a final ruling on new DOT drug testing panels. These will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

The DOT drug testing program will now include testing for expanded opiates – including hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.

These four semi-synthetic opioids have been added to provide consistency as mandated by Federal statute, OTETA, and applies not only to specimen testing validity values but also to initial and confirmatory testing values.

While employers should continue testing as usual (the changes point fall on the laboratory, not on you or your drug testing program), there are a couple of nuances employers should be aware of:

An increase in positive test results

In its annual Drug Testing Index. Quest Diagnostics shares with their laboratory positive rates, and what drugs are driving that positive rate. Their spring 2017 report revealed the following:

  • DOT opiate lab positive rate for urine drug tests (panel for codeine, morphine, and heroin metabolite) = 0.21%
  • Non-regulated opiate lab positive rate for urine drug tests (typical panel tests for codeine, morphine, and heroin metabolite as well as testing for hydrocodone and hydromorphone) = 0.47%
  • Non-regulated oxycodone lab positive rate for urine drug tests (panel for oxycodone and oxymorphone) = 0.69%

This data suggests that the new panel could yield a lab positive hit rate of 1.16%, an increase of over 500%

A possible increase in drug testing prices

With the last federal panel change which DOT adopted in 2010, the DOT lab panel increased approximately 10% across the industry. In some cases,  more resources required by screening service providers and labs = higher costs for companies seeking such checks.

Note: these changes only apply to Federal employee testing. If your company performs oral fluid, hair, instant, or non-DOT urine drug testing, these changes do not apply to your program.

Have questions about how the new DOT panel and how these changes impact your workplace? Our team’s here to help.

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