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U.S. Worker Use of Prescription Opiates Climbing, Shows Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™
Date:9/16/2010

MADISON, N.J., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- More American workers and job applicants are testing positive for prescription opiates, according to U.S. general workforce data in the 2009 annual Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) released today by Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE: DGX), the nation's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services. Results from more than 5.5 million urine drug tests reveal an 18 percent jump in opiate positives in the general U.S. workforce in a single year (2008 to 2009), and a more than 40 percent climb from 2005 to 2009.

In addition, 2009 post-accident drug tests found opiates up to four times more often than pre-employment tests (3.7 percent in post-accident as compared to 0.78 percent in pre-employment tests in the case of hydrocodone), suggesting that these drugs may be playing a role in workplace accidents.

"Evidence of increased opiate use is now appearing in the workplace as well as the ER," said Dr. Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Employer Solutions, Quest Diagnostics. "Because more U.S. workers are performing their duties while taking prescription opiates, employers, particularly those with safety-sensitive workers, should note this trend and take appropriate steps to ensure worker and public safety."

The new DTI findings are consistent with a June report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The DAWN study reported a 111 percent increase in the estimated number of emergency department visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics from 2004-2008 (from 144,600 to 305,900), and a 29 percent jump from 2007-2008.  The highest numbers of emergency department visits were recorded for oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, some of the same drugs showing increased use by the U.S. workforce in Quest Diagnostics'
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SOURCE Quest Diagnostics Incorporated
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