DOT to Add Synthetic Opioids to List of Tested Substances

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that proposes to add hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone to its mandatory drug-testing panel. These synthetic opioids appear in brand-name drugs such as Zohydro, Dilaudid, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Vicodin, Opana, and many others.

The proposed rule would change the name of the testing category from “opiates”—traditionally associated with drugs such as heroin—to the more contemporary “opioids,” which also comprises commonly prescribed (and abused) synthetic drugs.

Along with a host of “housekeeping” changes, the proposed rulemaking reiterates that for the same being, urinalysis will remain the only acceptable type of drug testing for Department of Transportation agencies, which include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and several others.

The proposed revision of the drug testing panel will harmonize the DOT’s testing procedures with the recently updated Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has set an effective date of October 1, 2017 for compliance with its final revision.

DOT will accept comments to the notice of proposed rulemaking until March 24, 2017. Comments may be submitted through the regulations.gov website.