DOT Adding New Drugs To 5-Panel

According to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released in the Federal Register today, The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its drug testing program regulations to add four new prescription medications (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone) to its drug-testing panel.

Additionally, they are proposing to add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine, (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte.

The proposed revision of the drug-testing panel is intended to harmonize with the revised Mandatory Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal drug-testing programs for urine testing which was also released as an NPRM today.

drug testing program

Currently, DOT  drug testing program regulations mandate urine testing under a five-panel test. This proposal will maintain the current five-panel test, but would rename the existing opiates category in Sec. 40.85 from “opiates” to “opioids” to include the new HHS-mandated drugs.

While that may seem like a small change, CDC data from 2012 indicates that 259 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. The fear of continued potential abuse of these drugs is the workplace is the primary driver of this change.

This proposal also adds clarification to certain drug-testing program provisions where necessary and removes outdated information in the regulations that is no longer needed. Another positive change proposes to remove the requirement for employers and Consortium/Third Party Administrators to submit blind specimens.

Some other smaller, but notable changes include the addition of  a new provision to indicate that only urine specimens are authorized to be used for drug testing under Part 40 and some changes to the verification process that Medical Review Officer’s (MRO) must go through.

The DOT asks for comments to the notice of proposed rulemaking by March 24, 2017, however late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

These new changes would go into effect on October 1, 2017. 

Go to and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

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