several legitimately prescribed drugs can trigger false optimistic drug test results — here"s what you need to know around dealing through the situation.


Surprisingly, no all confident results from 5-panel drug tests suggest illicit drug usage or substance abuse. (Learn much more in introduction to the 5-Panel drug Test). A variety of legitimately prescribed prescription drugs and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs contain ingredients the can cause false positives.

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Both drug-induced impairment and also false positives have actually serious consequences in the workplace. Because of this, employers and employees require to know the problems surrounding the usage of frequently prescribed and OTC drugs in the workplace.

Prescriptions and OTC medicines have the right to generate false positives

The 5-panel medicine test is the simple screen for medicine use and also abuse in the workplace. This check uncovers the presence of THC (cannabis), cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and also PCP in blood or urine. Through the exception of PCP, all of these drugs can be legit prescribed to treat legitimate health conditions.


Most employers are conscious that opiates and also amphetamines can be prescribed to deal with legitimate injuries and health concerns. In this cases, the presence of opiates and also amphetamines in their screen doesn’t immediately mean the the employee using them need to be disciplined or dismissed. It may be feasible to have employees continue working through reasonable house that removes them indigenous safety-sensitive duties while under a doctor’s care.

What’s less widely recognized is the some unanticipated prescription and also OTC drugs can additionally trigger positive drug check results.

A couple of examples are provided below.

Prescription drugs the can present up in medicine test results:


Bupropion (generic Wellbutrin) is one antidepressant that can generate a positive test result for amphetamine

OTC medicines with problem ingredients:

Robitussin and also Delsym (Dextromethorphan) are sneeze syrups that can generate a positive display for opiates and PCP

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine), used for sinus and nasal congestion, can test positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine

These are simply a couple of of the prescription and OTC drugs that have the right to be problematic when existing in the human body while collecting a medicine test sample. To be much better informed, it’s best to always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the potential next effects, including impacts on medicine test results, whenever taking medication.

Prescription and also OTC drugs can impact workplace safety

Many prescription and OTC medicines have actually side effects. Several of these side effects can disrupt worker performance and also undermine workplace safety.

Prescription and also OTC medicine side impacts to look the end for include:

Shortened fist span

Disrupted concentration

Short term storage disruption

Slower reaction times

Loss that coordination

Loss of balance


Even without a confident drug test result, once an employee shows signs of any type of of these next effects, it’s vital to interference so that workplace safety and security is maintained. Together you execute this, be responsibility of the demands for reasonable suspicion and also the worker privacy legal rights insured by the ADA.

Proactive measures employers can take

When it pertains to preserving a drug-free workplace and preserving workplace safety, it’s best to it is in proactive quite than wait for an event to occur. Two things employers can do are administer education to your employees and establish a solid and clean workplace medicine policy.

Educate employees and also managers

Members of your team should be taught the potential risks of impairment caused by prescription and OTC drugs in the workplace. While the threats of illicit medicine use and misuse have received a most publicity and may be top of mind, the threats posed by prescription and also OTC medication might not be so obvious. People need to understand both the potential threats to rectal safety and risks to their employability that false positives and also side effects pose.

Review and revise your drug-free and also safe rectal policies

Make sure that all elements of drug-free workplace and also workplace safety policies are comprehensive and align through the present law. Top an attorney acquainted with job law and also Department of transport (DOT) regulation to help you execute this.

Make sure plans are comprehensive, addressing fitness to work, reasonable accommodation, and worker privacy (as dictated under the ADA). Assignment out just how you, together the employer, will certainly respond to potential false positives and also impairment due to the use of prescription and OTC medicine in the workplace. Be certain your employees and also managers recognize these policies and procedures.

Benefit indigenous understanding and also addressing prescription and OTC medicine in the workplace

Common prescription and OTC medicines deserve to seem harmless. However, in the workplace, their usage can reason impairment and/or result in confident drug check results. (Learn more in Prescription drugs in the Workplace: Employer legal rights vs. Employee Privacy Rights). This deserve to have serious, long term results for both employers and also employees.

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By taking the time to understand and address the issues surrounding prescription and also OTC medication, employers assist insure workplace safety is maintained.