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

DTI data. Possible opiate side effects include drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and depending upon the drug taken, depressed respiration. They are known for their potential for addiction as well for the euphoria they can induce owing to their effect on regions of the brain that mediate what the body perceives as pleasure.

"The HHS report on nonmedical use of opiates -- and its consistency with DTI findings -- is notable and of concern, but it's important to remember that prescribed pain medication plays an important role in patient care and improved health," said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer, Quest Diagnostics. "Because both prescribed use and misuse of opiates appear to be on the rise, employers will want to address this issue comprehensively as they work to ensure employee health and safety."

Within the opiate category, semi-synthetic opiates showed higher numbers. Hydrocodone -- which, according to a 2010 Drug Topics report, has been the most prescribed generic drug for the past three years -- registered a 1.3 percent positivity rate in 2009 general U.S. workforce DTI data. Oxycodones showed a 1.0 percent positivity, while hydromorphone reached 0.82 percent. Naturally occurring opiates, codeine and morphine, were found at far lower positivity rates, 0.21 percent and 0.48 percent, respectively.

Cocaine and Methamphetamine Positives Continue Declines; Amphetamine Positives Jump Again Consistent with prior DTI reports highlighting illegal drug use trends, the 2009 index shows that cocaine use continued to decline sharply in 2009 vs. 2008, down 29.3 percent  (0.29 percent vs. 0.41 percent, respectively) in the general U.S. workforce, and 25 percent  (0.24 percent vs. 0.32 percent, respectively) in federally mandated safety-sensitive (FMSS) workers.  While methamphetamine showed little or no change, amphetamine positives continue to climb (greater than 15%) in both general and FMSS
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SOURCE Quest Diagnostics Incorporated
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