Final Rule introduces testing for ecstasy and mandatory initial testing for heroin, and lowers the cut-off levels for cocaine and amphetamines.
Week of August 16, 2010
At the end of last week — as Issue No. 649 of Fast-Fax was being put to bed — the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a highly anticipated Final Rule explaining the changes to its drug and alcohol testing program. There’s some good news for Fast-Fax readers with competent drug and alcohol testing program providers: the changes primarily impact procedures at the program management, laboratory and Medical Review Officer (MRO) level. If you’re a client of Foley Services, you have nothing to worry about. We are already working hard to ensure that all of the new procedures will be in place by October 1, 2010 — the effective date of the new rule.
This current round of Part 40 changes was designed to bring the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing requirements in line with recent Department of Health and Human Services’ changes to the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. The DOT followed the HHS’s lead with one notable exception: All DOT initial and confirmatory testing must be completed at a full-service laboratory.The revised Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs allow for initial testing at an Instrumental Initial Test Facilities (IITFs) as long as a full-service laboratory is used for confirmatory testing.
The following changes — all effective October 1, 2010 — apply to both the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs and the DOT’s Part 40:
- Adding MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy, to the list of amphetamines to be tested for;
- Looking for common MDMA variants during confirmatory testing;
- Conducting initial testing for 6-Acetymorphines, a common derivative of Heroin; and
- Lowering the initial and confirmatory cut-off levels for amphetamines and cocaine.
The DOT also revised several Part 40 definitions to mirror the definitions in HHS’ Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.
Testing for Ecstasy
It’s interesting to note that some commenters were calling for the DOT to require testing for prescription medications and other synthetic opiates in addition to or instead of MDMA. The DOT said that abuse of such substances, though a concern, was a separate issue. The department then reminded DOT-regulated employers about a valuable tool in their safety arsenal — non-DOT testing.
Lower Cut-Off Levels
Lower cut-off levels for cocaine and amphetamines will translate into more positive test results. A positive side benefit for the transportation industry and the general public is that safety will increase as substance abusers are removed from the road. In fact, one report shows a 40% increase in screening and a 30% increase in confirmation rates for amphetamines. Cocaine positives are also expected to spike. We encourage you to share this information with your drivers during informal conversations and training sessions. The lower detection levels may help deter a driver from using a banned substance in the first place.
In the Final Rule, the DOT also revised its training and certification requirements for Medical Review Officers (MROs). MROs now need to be re-qualified — including passing an examination by an MRO training organization — every five years. The DOT did, however, eliminate the requirement of 12 hours of continuing education every three years.
If you have questions about the DOT’s new drug and alcohol testing program requirements, please contact a Foley Services’ compliance specialist at 1-800-253-5506, ext. 708.
Editor: Donald E. Lewis, President • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 110, No. 650 • © Foley Services, Inc. 2010