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Prompt Response Network

The Prompt Response Network (PRN) is a national project bringing together existing and emerging early warning networks across the country regarding emerging drugs of concern and enabling a rapid response to reduce harm associated with them.

What are emerging drugs?

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care defines emerging drugs as new psychoactive drugs appearing on the market. They include novel drug classes which are potentially harmful. They also include new formulations of older drug classes for which problems related to their use are emerging. The situation is rapidly changing. There are hundreds of emerging drugs of concern, and this number is increasing every year.

The importance of responding to emerging drugs

The rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and drug market changes associated with other well-known substances is a key public health challenge in both Australia and internationally.

Without a well-coordinated drug prompt response system there can be delays in detecting and responding to health problems related to emerging substances, compounded by uncoordinated responses, media misrepresentation and stigmatisation. These can contribute to disparity in access to information and hamper effective public health intervention.

Recent clusters of drug toxicity in Australia have highlighted this capability gap, making the development of a PRN an urgent priority in this country.

The PRN’s objectives

The PRN coordinates participants to share information and knowledge for timely public health responses that reduce the harmful effects of emerging drugs. The network includes government departments, clinicians, consumers, harm reduction service providers, academics and other key stakeholders across Australia’s states and territories.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • establish a national network of new and existing organisations and networks that enables flexible participation and information exchange
  • develop communication and response protocols that define outcomes and actions for topics of interest
  • identify and disseminate the information and knowledge needed to support timely health response and decision making through a program of activities and supporting technology.

The PRN is more than an early warning system, which disseminates information to key stakeholders and the public. The PRN is a collaborated effort to empower consumers and communities and ultimately reduce the risk of events related to emerging substances.

How does the PRN work?

We developed the components of the PRN through a co-design and mapping process with key stakeholders involved in delivering public health drug alerts in Australia. Through this process we were able to identify opportunities to support existing and emerging networks without duplicating their activities.

There are three streams of work to support the network:

The Know website

The Know is the Australian emerging drug information and resource hub. It publishes information about emerging drugs and drug trends of concern across Australia, including compiling all state and territory alerts and notices to create a national overview of emerging drugs.

Visit theknow.org.au

A national community network

We support a broad community of people who are involved with regional and national networks to share information, insights, and opportunities. This community is enabled through:

  • an online professional community platform, The Know Community for broader stakeholders who opt in from each jurisdiction or organisation/network
  • quarterly online stakeholder update meetings of the broader PRN Stakeholder Group and the Jurisdictional Representatives Group.

The National Signal Register

The National Signal Register is a digital platform built to provide a national dashboard of incidents using de-identified data from contributing jurisdictional agencies (e.g., local health, toxicological and police agencies).

Local agencies can access information in the register to inform decision making regarding drug alerts and responses to emerging drugs and trends in drug use.

Presentations about the PRN

If you’d like more detailed information about the PRN, you can read or watch one of our recent presentations.


Contact the Prompt Response Network



Phone Number

0456 863 600