News

The UK's new Psychoactive Substance Bill

The UK’s Psychoactive Substances Bill is currently making its way through Parliament.  There will undoubtedly be further modifications made, but its sweeping recommendations are causing quite a flurry of media commentary.

Find links below to the current bill and to several online news stories.

Psychoactive Substances Bill: download the current Bill here.

Psychoactive substances ban will 'end brain research' in Britain, experts warn
Damien Gayle
The Guardian; May 29, 2015
Link to story here.

Psychoactive Substances Bill: What's banned and how are they checked?
BBC Newsbeat; May 29, 2015
Link to story here.

Queen's Speech 2015: 'Legal Highs' Banned Under New Bill Covering 'New Generation Of Psychoactive Drugs'
Louise Ridley
Huffington Post United Kingdom; May 27, 2015
Link to story here.

A temporary class drug order (TCDO) will be introduced on the Phenidate family

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) reviews the evidence of use and harms associated with Methylphenidate-based New Psychoactive Substances.

The UK Home Office announced that a temporary class drug order (TCDO) will be introduced on the Phenidate family, this includes: Ethylphenidate, Isopropylphenidate, HDMP-28 and 3,4-CTMP.

THE BAN WILL START ON FRIDAY 10TH APRIL 2015.

Download full report (pdf).

UKIAFT Annual Meeting and Conference

The 2015 Annual UKIAFT Conference and AGM will be hosted at Bournemouth University.  Topics will include all areas of forensic toxicology e.g. Cases studies, Method development and Analytical techniques,  New Psychoactive Substances (Legal Highs),  Pharmacogenomics, Drugs in Oral Fluid, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID), Drug Associated Crime.

The meeting is open to all who are associated with forensic toxicology i.e. casework scientists,  researchers and students studying forensic toxicology so please inform work colleagues and put the date in their diaries now.

Registration, paper & poster submission and Hotel Booking information will be released shortly.  For further information please contact UKIAFT2015@gmail.com.

We look forward to meeting you in September for a great meeting,
David Osselton

Calling Time on Binge Drinking and Alcohol-Fuelled Violence: The Next Steps

Calling Time on Binge Drinking and Alcohol-Fuelled Violence: The Next Steps
Central London
Wednesday 25th March 2015

Please, be advised that the early registration deadline for the above symposium is now fast approaching. This special rate represents a reduction of 20% off the standard delegate rates and is valid until Thursday 15th January 2015.

Following the launch of its Alcohol Strategy in 2012, the Home Office published the 'Next steps following the consultation on delivering the Government’s alcohol strategy' in July 2013, focusing on three key areas:

  • Targeted national action
  • Joining up at the local level
  • Promoting growth and supporting responsible businesses

To underpin its policy objectives, another significant change has seen the transfer of responsibility of public health from the NHS to local authorities in April 2013, with local authorities working with a wide range of partners (including drug and alcohol action teams) and taking command of commissioning and coordinating services on the ground.

This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local councils, licensing authorities, police service, health sector, industry and other key stakeholders to discuss the impact of the Government’s measures on alcohol. The symposium will explore how to clamp down on the binge drinking culture which pervades our society and analyse the new public health role of local authorities in tackling alcohol misuse.

We are pleased to advise you that we offer a 20% early registration discount off the standard delegate rates for all bookings received by 15th January 2015. For further details about the symposium, please refer to the internet addresses below. Do feel free to circulate this information to relevant colleagues within your organisation.

In the meantime, to ensure your organisation is represented, please book online or complete and return the attached registration form at your earliest convenience in order to secure your delegate place(s).

Kind regards,

The Conference Team
Public Policy Exchange
Tel: 0845 606 1535
Fax: 0845 606 1539

Event details - Register to attend - website

UK Focal Point Report 2014

The United Kingdom (UK) Focal Point on Drugs is based at Public Health England (PHE). It is the national partner of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and provides comprehensive information to the Centre on the drug situation in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Focal Point works closely with the Home Office, other government departments and the devolved administrations. In addition to this annual report, it collates an extensive range of data in the form of standard tables (STs) and responses to structured questionnaires (SQs), which are submitted regularly to the EMCDDA. It also contributes to other elements of the EMCDDA’s work such as the development and implementation of its five key epidemiological indicators, the Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action (EDDRA) and the implementation of the Council Decision on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

Further information about the UK Focal Point, including previous annual reports can be found on the Focal Point website at http://www.nta.nhs.uk/focalpoint.aspx.

Download the full report in pdf

Report from TIAFT 2014 Buenos Aires

meeting report by Dr Simon Elliott

The following is a report of the recent TIAFT meeting that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in November 2014. The meeting was well attended in general although very few UK toxicologists were present so I hope this report can give a reflection of the meeting content, both scientifically and socially for those who could not attend. I was also at the meeting to present the UK bid for TIAFT 2018 and this began with a pre-meeting presentation to the TIAFT Board. Despite this being shortly after landing at the airport, the presentation appeared to be well received and laid the foundation for the bid presentation to the members on the final day.

Following the formal opening ceremony of the meeting that evening the Welcome Reception took place at Tango Porteno across the road from the meeting hotel and this began our first experience of Argentinian beef that continued throughout the week, along with Malbec wine...

The Tango show and dinner was very well received and was (thankfully) far too professional to allow or “encourage” potential TIAFT dancers to the stage – that would come later. The “road” by the way (Av. 9 de Julio) was not just any road but with at least 16 lanes of traffic in places it was a feat to cross most days even with designated crossings and was said to be the widest road in the world according to our Argentinian guides. Delegates soon got used to it though as Tango Porteno hosted the lunches most days.

The scientific sessions began in earnest with many short talks and no parallel sessions. Whilst there were many different session topics, three overarching themes appeared to predominate and reflects modern toxicology; firstly, new psychoactive substances (NPS) are everywhere both in the world and in all aspects of toxicology from clinical to post-mortem to alternative matrices, etc. Related to this is that synthetic cannabinoids are interesting and clearly problematic in equal measure from a pharmacological, toxicological and analytical point of view. Various useful studies on the metabolism of synthetic cannabinoids and NPS were also reported and are of course important to ensure the most appropriate metabolites are looked for in biological specimens and over what time frame.

Finally, in relation to all these drug developments, more and more laboratories are acquiring and utilising high resolution accurate mass-spectrometry in casework. It is clear that the current challenges posed by NPS that we see in the UK also predictably apply globally but it was interesting to see the varied approaches in tackling the usual questions of analysis and interpretation. The high turnover of presentations meant a lot of information was provided over the week and I am sure delegates will still be using the abstract book to assist in filtering the data, methods and case reports presented, not just relating to NPS. This was also evident with the posters, this year being presented as “e-posters” on pre-loaded viewing screens in the exhibitors’ area. A diverse selection of research and case reports was shown as for the oral presentations, supported by the sponsors’ technical seminars.

In the middle of the week, as is traditional at TIAFT events, there was the excursion. This year it was to Estancia La Candelaria in the Pampas region of Argentina and it was obvious from the coach trip with miles of grassland and many cows, why beef is ubiquitous in the country!

Just after arrival and the barbeque, a demonstration of traditional dancing was given and inevitably TIAFT attendees were “encouraged” to take part with particular kudos to Marc LeBeau, Alain Verstraete and Robert Kronstrand who didn’t seem to need that much encouragement, with Marc’s “table knife dance” a particular highlight. Whilst many people enjoyed watching or being dragged around behind one of the horses, a group of us managed to obtain a football and a multi-national match took place, amongst many others with Pascal ‘Fabian Bartez’ Kintz in goal and Dimitri ‘Steven Gerrard’ Gerostamolous in the opposing team with a holding midfield position but showing odd periods of flare! After a frantic (to begin with until everyone realised how old they were) and enjoyable mosquito-dodging hour or less, the final score if I recall was 6:4 to the French/Belgian/Uruguay, etc side versus the Australian/English/Italian/German, etc side. I won’t bore you with tales of my goal. We look forward to a re-match in Florence on Italian home soil.

On the final day, after the closure of the scientific sessions, the annual TIAFT business meeting took place and along with voting for the new TIAFT Board (including the inauguration of Heesun Chung as the new President and Marc LeBeau as President-Elect), the host city for TIAFT 2018 was voted for. I have already given specific feedback of this in an e-mail to members but suffice to say that we will be travelling to the wonderful city of Ghent in Belgium with what looks to be an impressive meeting planned (watch out for the cyclists during the dinner - you’ll see what I mean….). It was spirited and well supported bids from Paris and ourselves but on this occasion it was not to be. As already stated to members, the large amount of positive feedback bodes well for the UK hosting an annual TIAFT meeting in the not too distant future. After the business meeting, TIAFT 2014 drew to a successful close at the traditional gala dinner with good food, sand pictures, awards, dancing and more Malbec.

LTG Committee Elections

December's meeting will see the election (or re-election) of members of the LTG executive committee.

Several places are up for election this year - Chair, deputy chair, treasurer, corporate liaison and ordinary member. Some of these positions will be vacant due to the current members standing down. If more than one person applies for each role, there will be a ballot during the business meeting at the LTG on 12th December.

If you are interested in any of these positions, or would just like to find out more, please don't hesitate to contact the secretary for more information. Otherwise, please just fill out the application form, with two supporting members, and send back to the secretary by Friday 28th November.

ASI scores in Brazil

With all eyes on Brazil for the climax of the world cup finals, ASI (Analytical Services International) is pleased to announce that it has scored its own success in Brazil with confirmation of its certification by the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA).

ASI joins the short and elite list of laboratories in Europe with ANVISA certification - testament to ASI's commitment to achieving international recognition for its attention to analytical quality.

'It is important that we support our international clients with the appropriate quality standards that are recognised within the global regions in which they operate', commented Professor Atholl Johnston, ASI's Scientific and Facility Director. 'Brazil and South America are important emerging markets for our clients and our success in gaining ANVISA certification will help their activities. It is one more quality milestone for us but, more importantly, it demonstrates our commitment to supporting our clients globally'.

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