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Oral Fluid Drug Testing Approved for Federal Employees

Oral fluid (saliva) collected using an absorbent swab in the mouth will be allowed as an alternative to a urine specimen in most federal agency drug testing programs beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

The Department of Health and Human Services published Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid in the Federal Register on Oct. 25. The agency still needs to approve laboratories in order for the oral fluid testing program to go into effect.

According to the Federal Register notice, scientific advances in oral fluid testing makes it a viable alternative to urine testing, which has become vulnerable to specimen adulteration. The oral fluid testing panel, and collection, laboratory analysis and medical review processes will be similar to those used for urine screening.

The mandatory guidelines do not apply to the Department of Transportation or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which must adopt their own rules.