Trump finalizes opioid testing rule for transportation workers

Trump finalizes opioid testing rule for transportation workers
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The Trump administration has finalized a rule requiring opioid testing for certain transportation workers.

The new regulation, issued Monday, will apply to railroad engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, truck drivers and any other employees who are subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDrone industry will take off under new Trump administration policy Overnight Tech: Feds to update driverless car rules | Senate panel threatened ex-Yahoo chief with subpoena | Sessions rips encryption | Tech groups sign DACA legal brief | What to know about tech's Russia hearings Overnight Regulation: Trump pick for USDA job withdraws amid Mueller scrutiny | Powell tapped for Fed | Female GOP lawmakers offer paid leave plan | Feds launch program for drone deliveries MORE in a statement.

“The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

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The rule comes as the administration has ramped up efforts to combat opioid abuse, including declaring the crisis a public health emergency. But the White House has faced some criticism for not doing more to stem the epidemic.

Democrats also raised concerns that the Trump administration had seemingly stalled in finalizing the rule requiring opioid testing for transportation workers.

Up until now, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has only administered a five-panel drug test, which includes marijuana, cocaine and PCP, for safety-sensitive transportation workers.

The agency's decades-old drug testing panel does not include prescription painkillers and opioids, misuse of which has skyrocketed in the country in recent years.

Two maintenance workers who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train last year while working on the track tested positive for cocaine and oxycodone.

To combat the growing opioid crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services updated its mandatory guidelines in January for federal workplace drug testing programs and allowed the Transportation Department to add four prescription opioids to its drug-test panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone.

The DOT has agreed to adopt the recommendations, with the new testing requirements set to begin next year.