Archive for November, 2010

What are the DOT random testing rates for 2011?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The Department of Transportation has recently published the testing rates for 2011. The rates can be found on the DOT website at www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/rates.html.

Next Generation Drug Detection Device Unveiled

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

A new generation of handheld drugs of abuse detection device is being unveiled this week at a trade show for the medical sector in Düsseldorf, Germany.

UK company Concateno is launching a fully portable system that claims to test for up to six different drug groups, from a single oral fluid (saliva) sample, in a matter of minutes.

Drugs of abuse will be identifiable within 90 seconds for some tests such as opiates and cocaine, or MDMA and THC, and within a few minutes for broader, more sensitive tests that capture a wider range of misused substances.

Concateno chairman and chief executive officer Peter Welch said: “The new system will offer significant operational benefits to healthcare and police professionals; perhaps the most important being the ability to speed up the point-of-care testing process.”

The company already markets a mobile drug testing devices to help combat drug driving as well as having uses in employeee services and healthcare.

Another Drug Tunnel Found Near San Diego

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

From the AP:  Investigators suspect a major drug cartel was the driving force behind two long, sophisticated tunnels connecting Mexico with the U.S. that were discovered this month along with more than 40 tons of marijuana.

Authorities said an underground passage located Thursday was similar to one found earlier — both running around 2,000 feet from Mexico to San Diego and equipped with lighting, ventilation, and a rail system for drugs to be carried on a small cart.

The tunnels are believed to be the work of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, headed by that country’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, said Mike Unzueta, head of investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

The tunnel found Thursday is more than seven football fields in length and extends from the kitchen of a home in Tijuana, Mexico, to two warehouses in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial district.

Three men were arrested in the United States, and the Mexican military raided a ranch in Mexico and made five arrests in connection with the tunnel, authorities said.

U.S. authorities have discovered more than 125 clandestine tunnels along the Mexican border since the early 1990s, though many were crude and incomplete.

The passage found Thursday is one of the most sophisticated to date, with an entry shaft in Mexico lined with cinderblocks and the rail system.

Doctors Back ‘Shy Bladder’ Patient

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

According to the Lansing State Journal, Ron Koonter lost his job when he failed to produce a urine sample for a random drug test on Oct. 25. The 43-year-old Grand Ledge man attributed the problem to a medical condition that prevents him from urinating at will – a syndrome confirmed by Koonter’s doctor, Mark W. Schaar, who operates a family practice in DeWitt.

Koonter is a building maintenance electrician who occasionally is required to drive. He estimated he’s undergone eight random drug tests in the past – prior to his “shy bladder” syndrome – all of which he’s passed. He denied ever using drugs.

DEA Moves to Emergency Control Synthetic Marijuana

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is using its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control five chemicals (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) used to make “fake pot” products. Except as authorized by law, this action will make possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals and products should be permanently controlled.

A Notice of Intent to Temporarily Control was published in the Federal Register today to alert the public to this action. After no fewer than 30 days, DEA will publish in the Federal Register a Final Rule to Temporarily Control these chemicals for at least 12 months with the possibility of a six-month extension. They will be designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category, which is reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no medical usage.

Over the past year, smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high, have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults. These products consist of plant material that has been coated with research chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. These chemicals, however, have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process. Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose.

Since 2009, DEA has received an increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding these products. Fifteen states have already taken action to control one or more of these chemicals. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow the DEA Administrator to emergency schedule an abused, harmful, non-medical substance in order to avoid an imminent public health crisis while the formal rule-making procedures described in the CSA are being conducted.

Create a written Safety and Health Program

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
To reduce the occurrence of job-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, many workplaces take a proactive approach. They develop what is called a “Safety and Health Program.” However, you may be more familiar with this program by another name, such as Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2), Accident Prevention Program, Safety and Health Management Systems, or some other name.

Regardless of the title, the common goal of these approaches is to help employers reduce workplace injuries and illnesses through a systematic process that proactively addresses workplace safety and health hazards. Generally, these programs have one or more of the following management elements listed below.

Management leadership

  • Establish responsibilities of managers, supervisors, and employees for safety and health;
  • Provide managers, supervisors, and employees with authority, information, training, and resources needed to carry out their responsibilities; and
  • Identify at least one person to handle reports about safety and health conditions, and, where appropriate, initiate corrective action.

Employee participation and information

  • Communicate with employees about safety and health matters;
  • Provide information to employees;
  • Provide ways employees can get involved in hazard identification and assessment, prioritizing hazards, training, and program evaluation;
  • Establish a hazard and incident reporting method; and
  • Provide prompt responses to reports.

Hazard identification and assessment

  • Conduct worksite inspections;
  • Review safety and health information;
  • Evaluate new equipment, materials, and processes; and
  • Assess the severity of identified hazards and rank those that cannot be corrected immediately.

 Hazard prevention and control

  • Develop a plan for coming into compliance by setting priorities and deadlines and tracking progress. Training
  • Ensure that each employee is provided with information and training in safety and health; and
  • Ensure that each employee exposed to a hazard is provided with information and training in that hazard.

Program evaluation

  • Evaluate the safety and health program regularly to ensure that it is effective and appropriate to workplace conditions.

It should be noted that on May 4, 2010, OSHA published a notice in the Federal Register that kicked off its development of an I2P2 proposed rule. While a final rule is a long way away, you can get a jump start on putting the elements of a typical safety and health program together so that you may better recognize and protect your employees from occupational safety and health hazards.

FDA Orders Recall of Darvon, Darvocet

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

From the US Recall News: Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is cooperating with the FDA in recalling Darvocet and Darvon, their versions of the pain killer propoxyphene. Darvon, which is also sold as Darvocet (with acetaminophen added), could cause serious and potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormalities, according to new clinical data reviewed by the FDA.

An outside advisory panel to the FDA recommended last year that Darvon and Darvocet be pulled from the market after concluding that the pain relief benefits of the drugs didn’t outweigh the significant risk of side effects related to overdose and addiction. However, the FDA is not required to follow the advice of the panel, and the two pain killers remained on the market until recent electrocardiography data from a clinical study revealed QT interval abnormalities occurred in healthy people taking normal doses of the drugs.

The main active drug in Darvocet and Darvon is propoxyphene, which the FDA has also removed from the market, affecting other generic versions of this widely prescribed pain medication.

Doctors have been asked to stop prescribing these drugs, and patients taking the medication are being advised to see their physician to discuss switching to another pain killer.

Younger Users of Marijuana at Higher Risk of Brain Damage

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

A small study performed by researchers at McLean Hospital in Boston suggests that children who start using marijuana before age 16 are at higher risk of long-term brain damage than those who start later, The Boston Globe reported Nov. 16.

The study tested the mental flexibility and focus of 59 young people from Boston, of whom 33 used marijuana. Among those tested, smokers who began using before age 16 had significantly impaired abilities to perform simple tasks, when compared to other users and to non-users.

In addition, users who began smoking marijuana before age 16 consumed three times as much of it each week than did smokers who started using after age 16.

The study’s results are to be shared at the upcoming Neuroscience 2010 conference and will soon be submitted to a scientific journal. It has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Arizona Approves Medical Marijuana

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The state of Arizona joins 14 other states in legalizing medical marijuana. By a narrow margin, voters approved a ballot measure that would allow patients who suffer from cancer, AIDS and other illnesses to use medical marijuana with a recommendation from their doctor.

Since 1996, 14 other states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws.

The proposition will allow the establishment of about 120 state-regulated clinics to dispense marijuana, according to the organization. Those living more than 25 miles from a clinic will be allowed to grow their own medicine.

An employee had a breathalyzer, and blood alcohol test, following a 9 panel urine plus alcohol test. Only the urine test came back positive. Could it be the time difference?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Urine testing (ETG testing) can detect the presence of alcohol in the body roughly up to 80 hours after consumption of alcohol, well over the detection time available via blood or breath testing.