Dr David Caldicott

Dr David Caldicott

Dr David Caldicott

We can do on-the-spot drug testing quickly and safely

On-the-spot drug analysis has been taking place in Europe for more than a decade, with the support of law enforcement, associated forensic toxicologists, analytical chemists and academics. A wide variety of drug testing systems using laboratory technologies are successfully deployed at events across Europe. A real-time drug monitoring system should be urgently considered in Australia. What are the barriers to an Australia trial and what are the steps to take to bring this important harm minimization tool to Australia?

Associate Professor David Caldicott is an Emergency Consultant at the Emergency Department of the Calvary Hospital in Canberra and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the Australian National University. He is a spokesperson for the Australian Science Media Centre on issues of illicit drug use and the medical response to terrorism and disasters Dr. Caldicott designed and piloted the Welsh Emergency Department Investigation of Novel Substances (WEDINOS) project in the UK, a unique program using regional emergency departments as sentinel monitoring hubs for the emergence and spread of novel illicit products associated with harm. He has replicated this work in Australia with the ACT Investigation of Novel Substances (ACTINOS) Group. He has published widely in the peer-reviewed literature, and presents nationally and internationally on the subject of the use of the emergency department as an observatory for the surveillance of novel psychotropic substances as they evolve, as well as their effects in acute overdose. He remains a staunch advocate for harm reduction, maintaining that drugs policy is an issue of public health, and not political morality.

Illustration by Ben Thomson and Ashley Goodall