New Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs for urine testing (73 FR 71858).

The new guidelines, effective October 1, 2017 are as follows:

  • Federal executive branch agencies will be required to test for additional DEA Schedule II drugs (i.e., oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone).
  • Methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) will be removed from the authorized drugs in Section 3.4 and added as an initial test analyte.
  • The pH cutoff will be raised from three to four for identifying specimens as adulterated.
  • Medical Review Officer re-qualification training and re-examination will be required at least every five years after initial MRO certification.
  • Allow the authorized collection of an alternate specimen (e.g., oral fluid) when a donor is unable to provide a sufficient amount of urine at the collection site.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking to revised Part 40 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations to in order to complement the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace drug testing programs. There are two changes which the notice proposes to correspond with Part 40:

  1. Allow drug-testing for four additional DEA Schedule II prescription medications: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
  2. Remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte from the existing drug-testing panel and add it as in initial test analyte.

In addition, the DOT would like to modify certain existing Part 40 provisions that cover the handling of urine specimens, to remove provisions that are no longer necessary (such as obsolete compliance dates), and to add clarifying language. The Department would also like to remove requirements related to blind specimen testing.

HHS monitors drug abuse trends and investigates information on new drugs from sources such as Federal regulators, researches, the drug-testing industry, and both public and private sector employers. Recommendations for the four added semi-synthetic drugs were based on a review of scientific information and on input from the Drug Testing Advisory Board (DTAB).

The number of positive MDEA specimens reported by HHS-certified laboratories did not support testing all specimens for MDEA in Federal workplace drug testing programs. While MDA has a low incidence rate, the HHS believes that continued testing for these analytes as an initial and confirmatory test analyte is warranted for deterrent programs.

For additional information, please check the following resources:

  1. Department of Health and Human Services – Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing programs –
  2. Department of Transportation – Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs –
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Dr. Todd Simo

Dr. Simo is the Chief Medical Officer and the Managing Director of Transportation at HireRight. He served as HireRight’s Medical Director starting in 2009 and was promoted to Chief Medical Officer in 2015. Dr. Simo was also appointed to the role of Managing Director of Transportation in 2018. Dr. Simo came to HireRight with a decade of experience in the medical consulting arena. Before that he was Medical Director at an occupational health clinic in Virginia and owned a consulting firm providing medical director services to employers across the United States.

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