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DOT Changes Drug Testing Panel - Adds Opioids

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) changed its drug-testing program regulations. They've added four semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT drug testing panel. DOT regulated employers should understand how this affects their drug testing program. Employers should also take steps to stay in compliance. 

DOT Drug Testing Panel Changes In 2018. 

The DOT made a few rule changes that go into effect on January 1st, 2018. The most significant change is the addition of four opioids to the DOT drug testing panel.  Adding to the standard DOT panel, employees will be drug tested for these four semi-synthetic opioids: 

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxymorphone 

These changes are part of the recent efforts by the Fed to help address the nation-wide opioid epidemic in the United States. The four opiods added remain consistent with the recent changes to the

Other changes to the DOT drug test panel include adding methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte. Also, methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) removed as a confirmatory test analyte. 

How does this affect DOT-regulated employers and employees?

In addition to the standard DOT panel, employees will be drug tested for four opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone).

Some common names for these opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®.  Also, employees will no longer be drug tested for MDEA.  

How should DOT-regulated employers stay in compliance. 

As part of the changes to the , the Director of Division of Workplace Programs at SAMHSA made a few suggestions for employers: 

  • Review and amend your drug-free workplace plan to update the term "opiates" to "opioids"
  • Notify all DOT regulated applicants and employees that:
    • MDEA will no longer be tested on the standard panel
    • Oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone added to the standard panel
  • Remind employees of the availability of assistance, treatment, and rehabilitation. These are available through the agency's Employee Assistance Program.
  • Notify drug testing service providers of the date that testing of the four semi-synthetic opioids is to begin. This includes collectors, laboratories, and Medical Review Officers, and third-party drug testing administrators. 
  • Change any existing contracts or agreements. 

The final rule also clarifies drug-testing program provisions and definitions, and makes technical amendments. 

Here's a summary of additional rule changes:

  • Employers and C/TPAs no longer have to submit blind samples.
  • Several of the MRO's drug test review processes modified.  
  • Three more fatal flaws added to the laboratory reporting list.
  • The shy bladder process modified so that the collector will discard any specimen provided during the collection event when the employee does not provide enough specimen by the end of the three hour wait period.
  • Collectors, alcohol testing technicians, MROs, and Substance Abuse Professionals subscribe to ODAPC's list-serve
  • Unauthorized use of DOT-branded items (such as logos or emblems) on a service agent’s website, publications, etc., could be a basis for the DOT to start a Public Interest Exclusion proceeding.
  • The list of NHTSA-approved Alcohol Screening Devices and Evidential Breath Testing Devices will appear on ODAPC’s website.
  • The DOT added a new section reiterating that, in the DOT testing program, only urine specimens collected and analyzed at HHS-certified laboratories.
  • The DOT added language further emphasizing the existing DOT prohibition on the use of DNA testing on DOT drug-testing specimens.
  • The final rule made minor modifications to certain section headings.
  • The final rule moved the list of Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) certification organizations from the rule text to ODAPC's website.
  • The final rule moved the MIS instructions from Appendix H to ODAPC’s website.
  • Outdated compliance dates removed and links updated.
  • Appendices B, C, D, and H updated.

We agree that the addition of the four opioids to the DOT drug testing panel is an important safety improvement. For employers, this is the most significant change to your DOT drug testing program. Other rule changes affect service agents involved in the DOT drug testing process. Employers, be sure to amend your drug-free workplace policy and notify your DOT covered employees. 

Read the final rule on ODAPC's website here

1321 Last modified on Thursday, 04 January 2018
Hagen DeRouen

Co-founder & CEO at Screensoft. 5+ years experience with employment screening program management and guidance. Certifications including FCRA basic, MRO assistant, and professional collector trainer. 

2 comments

  • Thursday, 30 November 2017 00:11 posted by Ben Watson Comment Link

    1)The DOT emblem at the top of your website would appear to violate the newly clarified policy.
    2) I don't think it quite accurate to say the expanded panel was a Fed effort to help address the opioid epidemic. It is a very tardy recognition we should have been testing for these drugs right along. If every driver hooked on these drugs were treated and made clean, it would barely make a dent in the overall number of those afflicted by opioid dependence. However, it will save lives of drivers and the general public.

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  • Hagen DeRouen Saturday, 02 December 2017 03:04 posted by Hagen DeRouen Comment Link

    Using the DOT logo is prohibited by agencies misrepresenting themselves as approved, certified, or endorsed by the Department. Public comments in the final rule allow references to DOT Web sites, and publications that contain DOT logos, titles, etc.

    The Final Rule also states, "Inclusion of these four semisynthetic opioids is intended to help address the nation-wide epidemic of opioid abuse." I agree, it will save lives of drivers and the general public.

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