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

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'.

Workshop: Clozapine Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

British Academy of Forensic Sciences & Clozapine and Treatment Resistance (CRESTAR) workshop on Clozapine Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.

Saturday 28 June 2014, Robens Suite, Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge, London SE1 9RT

Full programme and registration details

European Drug Report 2014

How many new drugs were detected in Europe over the last year? Is cannabis getting stronger? How many Europeans have ever used an illicit drug? What are the latest drug policy developments in the region? These are just some of the questions explored in the European Drug Report: Trends and developments. This report provides a top-level overview of the long-term drug-related trends and developments at European level, while homing in on emerging problems in specific countries. Such a perspective is valuable, as it allows differing national experiences to be understood within the broader European context.

Download the report here

Regulating New Psychoactive Substances

The Criminal Justice Centre, School of Law, QMUL and DrugScience (ISCD) are delighted to invite you to Regulating New Psychoactive Substances: Science, Law and Policy, the first in a series of conferences exploring on The Future of Pharmacological Regulation.

1 May 2014 (9.00-17.00)
Barts Pathology Museum
3rd Floor Robin Brook Centre
West Smithfield
London EC1A 7BE

The day will include expert talks on the science, policy, law and market relating to NPS as well as a panel discussion on regulation and research and open discussion of how best to address the NPS issue.
The seminar is suitable for all those working in fields relating to NPS, including academic and scientific research, law, health, campaigning, drugs services, trading standards, border control, policing, domestic/European/international policy and more.

For full details, please download the conference pdf.

To book your place please visit:
and enter the password QMLawPharma followed by your details.

Please note attendees will be asked to make a small contribution of £10 towards catering.

Special OPEN ACCESS double issue of DTA: The current situation with cannabinoids

Wiley have kindly granted open access to the Jan/Feb 2014 double issue, which focuses on The current situation with cannabinoids. Guested edited by Les King and our very own Academic Liaison, Andrew Kicman, this double issue is packed full of great articles by leaders in the field, including Marilyn Huestis on oral fluid, LTG treasurer Atholl Johnston on cannabis & driving, etc.

It is not often that there is so much current info available for free, so don't miss the opportunity to take a look here;

The link is:

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