The United States Navy revealed that it was expanding its drug testing program, and among the changes that will be made is the testing of more prescription medication.
The announcement was made on Thursday, February 23, by the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC). The announcement revealed that the Navy Drug Screening Laboratories (NDSLs) will start testing for addition prescription drugs in May.
Cheri Baird, deputy Navy drug testing program manager of the NMCPHC, shared: “The change is in response to an initiative from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in November 2010, which recommended expansion of drug testing to include the most common prescription drugs of abuse.”
A Department of Defense (DoD) message from January 31st already indicated that three NDSLs, located in Great Lakes, Jacksonville, and San Diego, will commence testing for additional prescription medications on May 1st.
Baird shared further: “We have a projected implementation date [May 1] for the expansion of our drug testing panel at all DoD drug testing laboratories to include hydrocodone and hydromorphone [both semi-synthetic opioids]. Testing for prescription medications is not new for our program. We currently test for codeine, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and amphetamines. We will now add two more compounds to our panel.”
The message indicated that while semi-synthetic opioids, along with codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone, are usually prescribed for the management of pain after an injury, the fact that they are potentially highly addictive may place a service member – and the ship, squadron or unit that they are serving with – at risk, if the medications are abused.