Bulletin no. 24: Global review of drug checking services operating in 2017

Author: Monica Barratt, Michala Kowalski, Larissa Maier, Alison Ritter

Resource Type: Bulletins

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Drug checking (or 'pill testing') services invite members of the public to anonymously submit psychoactive drug samples for forensic analysis and then provide individualised feedback of results and counselling as appropriate.

The rationale for the operation of these services is to inform people who decide to use currently illegal drugs or new psychoactive substances (NPS) about the content and purity of the products, so they can make a more informed decision about whether to use them or how to use them. These services also monitor drug market changes and when particularly dangerous drug samples are identified, they can issue tailored public alerts and inform specific harm reduction interventions.

This bulletin sought to identify and document the features of drug checking services operating worldwide as at 2017. In this bulletin we profile 31 drug checking services operated by 29 organisations, spanning 20 countries across Europe, the Americas and Australasia. There has been an exponential increase in the number of organisations conducting drug checking, with almost half of the organisations who responded to our survey beginning operations in the last five years. These new organisations join a contingent of established services, many with decades of experience. Our bulletin profiles how services receive submissions, the analytic methods used to identify and in many cases quantify the ingredients of drug samples, the amount of drugs required for analysis, service model aspects including wait times and offering secure disposal, how analysis results are communicated, funding arrangements and service evaluations.

Contact details are provided in the profiles appendix to facilitate direct contact with each service. 

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