Drugs Executive/legislative/judicial

SAMHSA expands federal workplace drug-testing guidelines to include opioids

Photo: smartstock/iStockphoto

Washington – Mandatory guidelines for drug testing of federal employees have been updated to include testing for four semi-synthetic opioids, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently announced.

The update went into effect Oct. 1 and covers all federal employees in designated testing positions outlined by their respective agency’s Drug-Free Workplace Program. The prescription opioid pain medications added to the guidelines are oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone. They go by brand names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Dilaudid.

More than 33,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a 2015 survey, SAMHSA reported that 75 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 with substance misuse disorders are in the workforce.

“Revising the Mandatory Guidelines has taken a tremendous amount of coordination across stakeholders and agencies over a period of several years,” Elinore McCance-Katz, SAMHSA assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, said in a Sept. 29 press release. “We felt it necessary to make these revisions because of advances in science and technology, and because of the increased misuse of prescription opioids.”

Agencies will not receive reports of positive test results supported by valid prescriptions or carrying other legitimate medical explanations, the release states.

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