Subpart G - Medical Review Officers and the Verification Process
§ 40.137 On what basis does the MRO verify test results involving marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, semi-synthetic opioids, or PCP?
(a) As the MRO, you must verify a confirmed positive test result for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone), and/or PCP unless the employee presents a legitimate medical explanation for the presence of the drug(s)/metabolite(s) in his or her system. In determining whether an employee’s legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act for a substance in these categories constitutes a legitimate medical explanation, you must not question whether the prescribing physician should have prescribed the substance.
(b) You must offer the employee an opportunity to present a legitimate medical explanation in all cases.
(c) The employee has the burden of proof that a legitimate medical explanation exists. The employee must present information meeting this burden at the time of the verification interview. As the MRO, you have discretion to extend the time available to the employee for this purpose for up to five days before verifying the test result, if you determine that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the employee will be able to produce relevant evidence concerning a legitimate medical explanation within that time.
(d) If you determine that there is a legitimate medical explanation, you must verify the test result as negative. Otherwise, you must verify the test result as positive.
(e) In determining whether a legitimate medical explanation exists, you may consider the employee's use of a medication from a foreign country. You must exercise your professional judgment consistently with the following principles:
(1) There can be a legitimate medical explanation only with respect to a substance that is obtained legally in a foreign country.
(2) There can be a legitimate medical explanation only with respect to a substance that has a legitimate medical use. Use of a drug of abuse (e.g., heroin, PCP, marijuana) or any other substance (see §40.151(f) and (g))
that cannot be viewed as having a legitimate medical use can never be the basis for a legitimate medical explanation, even if the substance is obtained legally in a foreign country.
(3) Use of the substance can form the basis of a legitimate medical explanation only if it is used consistently with its proper and intended medical purpose.
(4) Even if you find that there is a legitimate medical explanation under this paragraph (e) and verify a test negative, you may have a responsibility to raise fitness-for-duty considerations with the employer (see §40.327
[as amended 82 FR 52245, November 13, 2017]