On January 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will update its drug testing regulations for all transportation workers, including railroads, aviation and transit.
These new regulations will add four additional drugs to the screening panel, including: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.
These semi-synthetic opioids are currently sold under brand names such as: OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, Exalgo. Please note that this is not a full list of brand name drugs. If you believe your medication may include one of the four opioids mentioned above, please check with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
The complete list of drugs transportation workers can be screened for will now include:
Positive Tests: Currently, Medical Review Officers (MROs) determine whether there is a legitimate medical reason for a positive test result, such as a prescription from a licensed medical professional. If you test positive for any of these drugs you will be required to show proof of a legally valid prescription.
It is important to know your rights regarding legal prescriptions. MROs cannot deny your prescription is legitimate if it has been obtained legally from a licensed medical professional. However, MROs may contact the prescriber to verify the authenticity of the prescription and/or medical condition.
In addition, there is no time limit on the use of a legally valid prescription. The DOT believes there could be an unintended hardship on workers if an MRO were able to deny a legitimate prescription if the drug was taken after the intended timeframe for the medical condition. For example, if you were legally prescribed a 30-day supply of a drug, and tested positive 6 months later for that drug, your prescription cannot be deemed invalid.
Furthermore, there is no cutoff date for using a legally-obtained prescription as an explanation for a positive test result.
New Medical Correction Window: Another change in this rule is the process by which an MRO reports information to employers and the DOT.
Prior to this rule, MROs could report directly to employers and the DOT once they received test results indicating an employee is on a substance that would disqualify them from service. The new rule allows the employee five business days to have their doctor contact the MRO and determine if there is an alternative medication that would not violate DOT rules, thus allowing the employee to stay in service.
Marijuana Still Banned: Despite many states legalizing marijuana, please note that it is still completely prohibited by the DOT. Therefore, MROs will not accept any prescriptions for marijuana.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your local chairperson or the TCU/IAM Legislative Department at (301) 840-8704.