Pre-Employment Drug Positives Rose in 2012, Quest Diagnostics Index Shows

Oral fluid testing is also increasingly finding more positives, according to the company.

Job applicants subject to pre-employment drug screening tested positive for illegal drugs at a greater rate in the first half of 2012 than in all of 2011, according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Test Index™, which showed marijuana remains the most commonly detected drug. Another significant finding is that oral fluid testing is increasingly finding more positives, the company announced March 7.

The positive rate from pre-employment urine testing in the U.S. general workforce increased by 5.7 percent in the first half of 2012 versus 2011, while the positive rate from random urine drug testing in the general workforce was down 5.8 percent. The positive rate in pre-employment urine drug screening for the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce did not change, but the rate from random testing among those workers declined 6.7 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to 2011.

"The uptick in U.S. general workforce pre-employment data suggests that employers should be mindful of illicit drug use among prospective employees," said Dr. Barry Sample, director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. "These findings align with recent news reports citing some employers facing increasing drug positives when recruiting new workers."

Marijuana positive rates in oral fluid and urine changed little between 2008 and 2011, but the gap between oral fluid and urine positive rates for marijuana increased -- from a 29 percent higher rate in oral fluid in 2008 to a 42 percent higher rate in 2011. "The higher oral fluid detection rate for marijuana strongly suggests that observed oral fluid collection curbs evasive donor behavior," said Sample. "Simply put, it is extremely difficult to cheat an oral fluid collection when someone is observing."

According to the January to June 2012 DTI oral fluid data, the cocaine positive rate was down 14.6 percent compared to 2011, and cocaine oral fluid positives in 2011 were down 10.9 percent from 2010. Amphetamine positives continued a five-year upward trend, however.

The new findings are based on an analysis of more than 3.4 million urine and 340,000 oral fluid drug tests performed at Quest Diagnostics labs during the first half of 2012. For more information, visit www.QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI.

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