New Psychoactive Substances
"substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”
Information from a range of sources in the UK and Europe indicate that some users of new psychoactive substances (NPS) are at risk of a number of serious adverse effects. Principally these include the direct or acute physical, psychological and behavioural effects following use, as well as the potential for increased engagement with criminal justice services. Longer term, or chronic effects are, in the main, poorly evidenced. This project is designed to inform both.
WEDINOS began life back in 2009 following an increase in presentations to an Emergency Department in Gwent where the patient had clearly consumed drugs, but the Clinicians (and patients) were unsure what had been consumed. A team of three: Dr David Caldicott (Emergency Dept Consultant), Dr Alun Hutchings (Toxicology) and Dr Andrew Westwell (Pharmaceutical chemistry) devised an informal mechanism whereby samples of unknown / unidentified drugs were provided by patients and tested in Cardiff Toxicology Laboratories, University Hospital Llandough. The drugs were profiled and a process of mapping trends and harms was initiated.
WELSH EMERGING DRUGS AND IDENTIFICATION OF NOVEL SUBSTANCES (WEDINOS)
Following the departure of Dr Caldicott back to Australia (where he has since set up an similar project ‘ACTINOS’), Public Health Wales, with the support of Welsh Government, took the early work forward along with Dr Hutchings and Dr Westwell, and expanded the project to a national framework.
|Dr Alun Hutchings
Head of Toxicology
|Dr Andrew Westwell
Reader - Medicinal Chemistry
WEDINOS Project Manager
Substance Misuse Programme Lead
WEDINOS now provides a robust mechanism for the collection and testing of unknown / unidentified or new psychoactive substances and combinations of substances, and the production and dissemination of pragmatic harm reduction advice. Samples may now be submitted by anyone in Wales. Participating organisations, who may support an individual wishing to submit a sample, include substance misuse services (Tiers 1-3), housing and hostels, youth clubs and young people’s services, education, night clubs and bars, mental health community teams, Local Authorities, Ambulance Service and the Police. In addition, these organisations may submit samples that have been found on premises or in the community.
Following analysis of the samples, timely and accurate information regarding the chemical profile of the samples tested alongside pragmatic harm reduction information, based on the content and legal context, will be made available through a variety of means including the website, health alerts via press release and the quarterly bulletin ‘PHILTRE’.
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