Drug testing in the workplace

Hieu M. Phan, Keith Yoshizuka, Daryl J. Murry, Paul J. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act in April 1988, which resulted in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. The intent was to establish a substance-free work environment for all federal workers by requiring that all federal employees pass a urine drug test before employment. These guidelines specifically, and exclusively, focus on testing urine specimens for metabolites of marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine, opiates (focusing on heroin metabolites), and amphetamines (including Ecstasy). Since then, there have been many scientific, technical, and legal challenges to the validity of urine drug testing. In response, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division operating under the executive branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, put forth, through many revisions, strict procedural guidelines and specimen validity-testing criteria to manage suspicious or adulterated samples during and after urine collection. This review focuses on the legal ramifications, the procedural process, and the sensitivity and specificity of the two urine drug tests used for workplace drug testing: immunoassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Moreover, we dissect the problematic issue of cross-sensitivity between illicit and prescription drugs, and how this affects the validity of future urine drug testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Confirmation assay
  • Forensic drug testing
  • Immunoassay screening
  • Specimen validity testing
  • Urine drug testing
  • Workplace drug testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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