Emerging Drugs Network of Australia

Emerging Drugs Network of Australia 

One of the interesting projects the RPH Research Foundation has funded is around determining illicit drugs through the Emerging Drugs Network of Australia (EDNA).

Illicit drug use is a global public health problem, accounting for 7% of Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department (ED) attendances.

The Emerging Drugs Network of Australia (EDNA) is a collaboration between emergency physicians, clinical toxicologists and forensic labs and researchers to combat the devastating effects of drug taking by improving the objective up-to-date data on illicit substances.  It gives emergency clinicians the knowledge required to treat the thousands of patients admitted to hospitals across Australia from an overdose.

This not only supports patients presenting with symptoms of drug use but ensures patients whose symptoms look similar but are unrelated, are quickly identified allowing doctors to treat them effectively. EDNA helps determine new illicit drugs and their clinical effects and works as an early warning system for public health systems across Australia and informs policy and decision-making processes.

EDNA was first piloted under the WA Illicit Substances Evaluation led by David McCutcheon, a RPH Research Advancement Career Advancement Fellow. The seed funding provided by the Foundation was then leveraged into a nationwide collaboration which in 2020 received $3.7 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding – the largest NHMRC funding in Australia.

Leading the team is Professor Daniel Fatovich, a senior emergency physician and clinical researcher at the Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department with over 30 years of experience in conducting clinical trials in Emergency Medicine. Professor Fatovich is also Head of the Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine and Director of Research for East Metropolitan Health Service who leads a team of researchers within the ED.

When talking about EDNA, Professor Fatovich quotes Victor Hugo, “There’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” He goes on to say it is “obvious that drug testing in the ED should be done and we've proven with the Foundation's help and support at the start, that we can actually do amazing things on an international stage.”

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