HHS looks to expand drug-testing guidelines for federal workplaces

Drug test

Washington – Federal workplace drug-testing programs could include new and revised guidelines as part of recently proposed rules from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposed rules would allow federal agencies to collect and test oral fluid specimens as part of their drug-testing programs. The agencies also would be allowed to test urine specimens for controlled substances such as oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone.

HHS published both proposed rules in the May 15 Federal Register. The addition of oxycodone and other Schedule II prescription medications stemmed in part from a July 2011 meeting involving the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Testing Advisory Board.

Some agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, will need to follow these guidelines when developing drug-testing programs for their regulated industries, according to the notice.

“The DTAB recommendations, current drug abuse trends and other relevant information, and the private sector experience have led the Department to conclude that the additional opiates ... should be added in the federal program,” officials said in the executive summary.

Agencies will have the option to test oral fluid specimens but will not be required to do so, HHS said. Since 1988, agencies have been allowed to collect only urine specimens.

Public comments on both proposed rules are due July 14.