New federal mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing became effective on October 1, 2017, and will include the authority to test for four semi-synthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These are prescription opioid pain medications that have commonly known names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, etc.
These four prescription pain medications were added to the standard testing panel because data indicates that although they are prescribed, they are the prescription pain medications that are most frequently used without medical authority.
However, under the revised Mandatory Guidelines, positive drug testing results that have a legitimate medical explanation (e.g., supported by a valid prescription), as determined by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), will not be reported to federal agencies.
These revised Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine (UrMG) affect all federal employees in a testing designated position, which is defined by each agency’s Drug-Free Workplace Program.
In 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program was initiated by Executive Order 12564 to establish the goal of a drug-free federal workplace. The Program made it a condition of employment for all federal employees to refrain from using illegal drugs on or off duty.
By implementing workplace drug testing for four semi-synthetic opioids, HHS is continuing its efforts to prevent opioid addiction in support of President Trump’s commitment to combat the opioid crisis. The long-term impact of implementing these revised guidelines will help ensure safety in the workplace, especially in national security, public health, and public safety occupations that interact directly with the public.