Pre- Employment Drug Screening Expanded Opiates FAQ
Everyone is aware of the growth and consequences of the opioid epidemic in our country. Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.
As reported by drugabuse.gov, in 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose.
The evolution of hard drug use in the United States means that drug screening has also had to evolve Now, employers wishing to avoid the consequences of having employees that misuse opioids will see the need for their drug screening program to include expanded testing for opioids.
Normally, employment screening drug testing for opiates only screens and reports the presence of codeine and morphine.
Whereas, an expanded opiate panel will also include testing for the prescence of hydrocodone and hydromorphone and/or oxycodone and oxymorphone.
An expanded opiate panel is needed to detect other commonly used narcotics, including fentanyl (Duragesic), hydrocodone (Hycodan), methadone, oxycodone (Roxicodone, Oxycontin), buprenorphine, and tramadol (Ultram).10
Using the expanded opiates drug screening, the positivity rate for the expanded opiates is 2-3 times higher than that of either codeine or morphine.
Why is the new and expanded opiate test panel better? Opiate screening immunoassays are targeted to detect morphine.
Since the other opiates share structural similarities with morphine, the opiate screening reagents detect the expanded opiates to varying extents.
In the case of oxycodone, most of the general opiate screens only detect oxycodone if it is present at a high concentration. With the new expanded opiate panel from Quest Diagnostics, we are adding a specific screening test to detect oxycodone; thereby, increasing the detection rate for oxycodone use/abuse.
How frequently is oxycodone and hydrocodone detected using the expanded opiate testing? In 2004, based on more than 284,000 workplace drug tests, the positivity rate for hydrocodone was 0.85% and for oxycodone was 0.19 percent.
Using the new oxycodone specific reagent, in a pilot study involving more than 20,000 specimens, the positivity rate for oxycodone increased by more than 150 percent to 0.53 percent.
What are the trends in expanded opiate abuse?
There have been significant and alarming increases in the incidence of oxycodone and hydrocodone use as measured by the National Survey on Drug Use & Health [NSDUH] (formerly, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse); the Monitoring the Future surveys of high school and college-aged youth; Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) emergency department mentions;and Quest Diagnostics positivity rates.
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