Federal Government Closer to Accepting Oral Fluids Testing for Drugs

On Friday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a Notice in the Federal Register to establish rules for including oral fluids testing in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (Guidelines). This means the federal government will likely accept oral fluids testing for prohibited drugs in addition to urinalysis in the near future.

SAMHSA has been evaluating oral fluids testing for several years. At the July 2011 meeting of SAMHSA’s Drug Testing Advisory Board, Board members voted unanimously to include oral fluids in the Guidelines and to add certain Schedule II prescription drugs to the panel of drugs regularly tested for. Last week’s Notice in the Federal Register brings these measures one giant step closer to reality.

Employers in the private sector have had the ability to use oral-fluids testing for many years. However, this move paves the way for employers covered by federal government regulations, notably those falling under the Department of Transportation’s many agencies, to use oral-fluids testing instead of urinalysis. Oral-fluids testing offers several advantages over urinalysis, chief of which is that all sample collections can by monitored without major privacy concerns.

The Notice can be read in its entirety here. Interested parties may submit comments on or before July 14, 2015.