On Nov. 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued amendments to its drug testing regulations. These changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and apply to all mariners who ship with the SIU.
These are the significant changes that SIU members should be aware of:
-The following drugs have been added to the panel that mariners are tested for: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. (Some of the brand names for these drugs are: Norco, Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Percocet, Percodan, Zohydro ER, Hysingla ER, Dilaudid, Exalgo, Numorphan, Oxaydo, OxyContin, Oxyfast, Roxicodone, Opana, Opana ER and Xtampza ER.) If you are not sure if you are taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
-If a mariner tests positive for one of the drugs listed above, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will verify whether the mariner has a legally valid prescription for the drug. If the mariner has a legal prescription, the drug test will be reported as negative. The MRO must then allow the mariner five (5) business days so that the mariner’s physician can contact the MRO, to see if a different drug can be prescribed that does not make the mariner medically unqualified and will not pose a safety risk. If the prescription cannot be changed or the doctor does not respond, and the MRO determines that the drug is a safety risk, the MRO will report this information to the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan Medical Department. The mariner will then be medically unqualified to ship through the SIU, until the prescription is changed, or the mariner is no longer taking this drug.
– If the mariner tests positive for one of these drugs and does not have his or her own valid prescription for the medication, the test will be reported by the MRO to the Coast Guard as a positive test.
You should be aware that the Coast Guard does not permit a mariner to ship if he or she is taking any of the opioids listed above. If you are currently taking one of these prescriptions, talk to your provider about other treatment options. If you feel that you may require treatment for addiction to a medication and you would like to have a confidential discussion about your options, you may contact Jack Gallagher at the Seafarers Addictions Rehabilitation Center (SARC) at (301) 994-0010, extension 5333.
The complete DOT notification is available online at the following web address (it’s a 20-page PDF file):