Drug Testing Guidelines Allow Broader Use Of Urine Specimen Testing

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today published a Final Notice of Revisions to its Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (Guidelines). The Guidelines establish the scientific and technical guidelines for the Federal workplace drug testing programs and establish standards for certification of laboratories engaged in drug testing for Federal agencies by addressing the collection and testing of urine specimens, the requirements for the certification of Instrumented Initial Test Facilities (IITFs), and the role of and standards for collectors and Medical Review Officers (MROs).

The final revisions to the Guidelines announced today in the Federal Register are based on proposed 2004 revisions which emphasized the important role testing of urine specimens plays in the deterrence of substance abuse in the Federal workplace. The final revisions incorporate tests for a broader range of illicit substances, and establish new procedures for ensuring the reliability and accuracy of urine drug testing.

The final revisions to the Guidelines expand the use of enhanced versions of these tests to cover a broader range of illicit substances including:

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• 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “Ecstasy,” or “Adam”)
• 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA or “Love Drug”)
• 3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA or “Eve”)

The final revisions to the Guidelines take a more cautious approach than the 2004 proposals, however, regarding the proposed use of alternative specimens and techniques in Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. These alternative methods include testing hair, oral fluid, sweat patch specimens and point of collection testing (instant screening kits) for urine specimen testing. Although the 2004 proposals had raised the possibility of incorporating these potentially promising testing methods into the final guidelines, HHS has determined that further study and analysis is needed.

“These final drug testing guidelines will continue to protect the public’s health and safety,” said SAMHSA’s acting administrator, Eric Broderick, D.D.S, M.P.H. “However, we recognize that there are other emerging technologies and approaches that may enhance the nature and scope of drug screening efforts, and we will do everything we can to help aid their development.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), SAMHSA’s parent organization, believes that the addition of alternative specimens to the Federal Workplace Drug Testing Program would complement urine drug testing and aid in combating the risks posed from available methods of suborning urine drug testing through adulteration, substitution, and dilution. Thus, HHS will continue to pursue testing using alternative specimens.

As part of the continued review process for these alternative tests, HHS and SAMHSA plan to issue a notice in the Federal Register requesting information and assistance from the general public to provide or identify data and research findings that address specific areas of interest. HHS anticipates issuing further revisions to the Mandatory Guidelines addressing the use of alternative specimens and the use of point of collection testing devices for urine and oral fluid. These revisions will be published in the Federal Register, with opportunity for public comment.

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