Flying High: Cocaine Positives Spike 33%

The annual Drug Testing Index, released by Quest Diagnostics this week, reveals a 33% jump in cocaine positives in the safety-sensitive workforce, largely driven by new, lower cutoff rules implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Amphetamines positives among this group also rose by nearly 26%, continuing an existing upward trend, but also likely boosted by better detection related to the new, lower, Federally-mandated cutoffs.

The findings are based on 1.6 million federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics between January and December 2011.

First published in 1988, the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index is a benchmark for national trends. It examines positivity rates – the proportion of positive results for each drug to all such drug tests performed – among three major testing populations: federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers, the general workforce, and the combined U.S. workforce.

Key Findings

Among the 4.8 million tests in the general U.S. workforce from January to December 2011, amphetamines positives are up 16.7% from 2010 (0.66% vs. 0.77%) and up 75% since 2007. Cocaine positivity is up 8% from 2010 (0.25% vs. 0.27%) in the general workforce, also partially driven by some private sector employers adopting the new Federal standard.

Positivity rates for oxycodone from more than 500,000 tests in the general U.S. workforce are 10% higher than in 2010 (1.0% vs. 1.1%) and up 25% since 2007.

Positivity for opiates in the general workforce is up nearly 7.7% from 2010 (0.39% vs. 0.42%) and up 20% since 2007.

Positivity for propoxyphene in the general workforce was down 84.7% from 2010 (0.38% vs. 0.06%). Propoxyphene was pulled off the market in November 2010 because the drug was found to put patients at risk for potentially serious or even fatal heart rhythm abnormalities.

View the complete Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (47 KB PDF)

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