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Boeing Arrest Points to U.S. Workplace Drug Problems

The arrest of more than three-dozen people at a Boeing military aircraft plant for selling or trying to buy painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs, highlights the growing problem of prescription drug abuse by U.S. workers. Detecting such abuse in the workplace is problematic because most drug tests currently utilized by employers are geared toward illicit drugs such as marijuana. In fact, only 12% of the 4.5 million drug tests conducted last year tested for Oxycontin, a powerful painkiller, according to Quest Diagnostics. In addition, 75% of drug tests are initiated solely at the time of hiring, therefore bypassing current employees who may develop an addiction while on the job. The 400% increase in prescription painkiller abuse treatment over the past decade has prompted the Obama administration to launch a fight against a “prescription drug abuse epidemic.”

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