For Emergencies Call 911 Now - Call UTC Today (859)266-4UTC (4882)

Articles & Press ReleasesReturn to News & Media Page

Common Drug Test Panels and the Need for "Expanded Opiates"

Federal government (DOT/FMSCA) guidelines for companies which use commercial class drivers licenses (CDL) require a drug screen that tests for 5 categories of drugs: cannabinoids (marijuana); cocaine; amphetamines/methamphetamines/MDMA(ecstacy); opiates (heroin, codeine, morphine); and phencyclidine (PCP). Most employers who have a Drug-free Workplace policy and are NOT regulated by DOT will choose a test for 9 categories of drugs: All of the above 5 panels PLUS barbiturates (Nembutal, seconal, fiorinal, butisol, etc); benzodiazepines (valium, xanax, ativan, restoril, halcion, "roofies", etc); propoxyphene (darvon, darvocet); and methadone.

The problem with the customary 9 panel drug screen as described above is that it does NOT test for some of the MOST abused drugs found in Kentucky: oxycodones, hydrocodones, oxymorphones, and hydromorphones. By conducting a 9 panel WITH EXPANDED OPIATES drug screen, an employer can better assure a safer drug-free workplace. Oxycodones (oxycontin, percodan, percocet, etc), hydrocodones (lortab, vicodin, lorcet, etc), oxymorphones (numorphan, opana, etc) and hydromorphones (diludid, etc) are classified as opiates; however, the metabolite for these substances require a substantially more sensitive detection level than the standard opiates and an additional panel. The standard opiate cut-off level of 2000 ng/ml does NOT capture these substances; it captures only heroin, morphine, and codeine.

What should I do?

If you do not currently drug test your employees, strongly consider doing so. Since over ¾ of drug abusers are employed, having no drug testing program assures that your chances of hiring a drug abuser sky-rocket.

If you do drug test your pre-hires and current employees, make SURE you know what you are testing for. Many employers THINK that testing for opiates captures these highly abused substances; not necessarily.

How can UTC help?

UTC can partner with your company to provide a COMPREHENSIVE drug testing program: from policy development and implementation; to in-clinic or on-site drug testing for pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion and random needs; to assistance with random testing program; to DOT compliance including Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors and more. For more information, contact the UTC occupational medicine team at 859-273-8882.