The Emerging Drugs Network of Australia (EDNA) brings together emergency physicians, toxicologists and forensic laboratories, with assistance from existing specialist networks such as state poisons information centres, the Toxicology And Poisons Network Australasia, and the Toxicology Specialist Advisory Group. EDNA will build a national toxicosurveillance system of illicit and emerging drugs involved in emergency department presentations, including their clinical effects, treatment approaches and outcomes.
The EDNA investigator team aims to:
- Develop standardised testing protocols with high sensitivity to identify new and emerging Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), detect changes in patterns of use and identify highly toxic psychoactive substances;
- Determine clinical patterns of toxicity associated with the illicit drugs and NPS involved in ED presentations, and how these relate to outcomes, including resource implications.
- Support localised early warning systems (EWS) responses in each state by sharing clinical and toxicological information across key agencies to inform public health and harm reduction policy.
Blood analysis of intoxicated patients will be conducted by lead forensic laboratories in each state to enable precise identification of the substances causing acute toxicity. This will be linked with clinical data collected at the time of ED presentation to enable analysis of the clinical effects and outcomes associated with different illicit and emerging drugs.
National analysis and reporting structures will allow high quality Australia-wide data to be produced and to inform users, clinicians and health and government bodies regarding new and emerging drugs of concern and their clinical effects. Close collaboration between lead clinicians in each state and their local forensic laboratory will enable rapid detection and reporting of harmful illicit and emerging drugs while they are still in circulation.
An NCCRED Seed Grant in 2019 provided funding for a national research project coordinator to develop the research infrastructure, collaborations and study methodology for EDNA going forward. In 2020, the national EDNA collaboration was awarded a five-year NHMRC Ideas Grant.