NEW NATIONAL REPORTING SYSTEM: RIDR
Cases like ketamine bladder started conversations about how services might work
together to speed up our response to emerging drug-related harms. Policymakers,
practitioners and other stakeholders thought that one way to do this would be
through a centralised national reporting system modelled on the Medicines and
Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) yellow card scheme, which has
been tracking adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs for over 50 years. The
thinking was that if frontline health professionals could report the adverse drug
reactions that they were seeing on the ground, Public Health England (PHE) would
be able to build a more consistent and up-to-date picture of new drug-related
health harms as they emerged and reduce the time taken to develop effective
Working with the MHRA, PHE launched the Reporting Illicit Drug Reactions (RIDR)
system in March 2017. The system is intended to be used by health professionals who
work in emergency departments, general practice, alcohol and drug treatment, sexual
health, mental health and other settings where staff come into contact with people
presenting with acute or chronic problems with NPS and other drugs. Professionals
can submit reports by registering with the RIDR website and giving information about
the adverse reactions they have seen, including the individual’s symptoms, suspect
substance(s), frequency of use, dose and date of presentation.
Since the project launched, 347 reports have been received from a wide range of
settings, including prisons, A&E and drug services. More than 60 per cent of the
reports to date have been about SCRAs. The most commonly reported adverse
reactions are depressed levels of consciousness, slurred speech and drowsiness
indicating nervous systems disorders; other common adverse reactions include
agitation and acute psychosis.
As well as making reports to RIDR, health professionals can also access the RIDR
‘dashboard.’ The dashboard gives a brief, up-to-date summary of the latest reported
adverse drug effects drawn from RIDR reports and other sources. The RIDR project is
supported by a national multi-disciplinary clinical network and is led by Dr Owen
Bowden-Jones, consultant psychiatrist and clinical adviser to PHE’s Alcohol, Drugs,
Tobacco and Justice Division.
Dr Bowden-Jones recognises that ‘working with people using NPS and emerging
drug combinations is a challenge for all of us on the frontline. Often the dealer
doesn’t know what they are selling and so the user doesn’t know what they have
taken, so the clinician will have no idea of the potential harms. This situation
requires careful clinical assessment to work out the best way to help.’ It is our hope
at PHE that RIDR will prove a powerful tool in our hands as health professionals,
offering a way of receiving and sharing valuable intelligence from the ground up.
To support you in understanding new and emerging drug-related health harms,
we’ve developed a four point checklist:
• Get a headline summary of the latest guidance and intelligence on NPS
and other drug health harms: report-illicit-drug-reaction.phe.gov.uk/latest-
• Report the adverse illicit drug reactions that you encounter: report-illicit-
• Get comprehensive guidance on managing the acute and chronic harms of
club drugs and NPS: neptune-clinical-guidance.co.uk/clinical-guidance-2/
• Complete free, easy-to-use and accessible e-learning on club drugs and
Laura Pechey is a programme manager in the Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice
Division of Public Health England (PHE)
If you’re interested in helping the world have
honest conversations about drug use, please
read on, say Prof Adam Winstock, Dr Monica
Barratt, Dr Larissa Maier and Prof Jason Ferris
GLOBAL DRUG SURVEY (GDS) is comprised of a network of international
experts in the field of drugs, health, epidemiology and public policy. GDS uses
an encrypted, online survey platform to conduct annual anonymous surveys,
and over the last six years more than 550,000 people have taken part.
Now in its eighth year, our latest survey GDS2019, launching this month,
will be translated into 23 languages, with partners in more than 35 countries.
Because we are independent, we can focus our attention on achieving our
mission of making drug use safer regardless of the legal status of the drug. All
our research is approved by university ethics committees and to date has led
to 50 peer-reviewed publications in the last six years.
Addressing issues such as overdose prevention, blood-borne viruses,
irrational drug policies, inequitable application and human rights violations is
central to shifting the way we can reduce harm from drug use on a global scale.
GDS complements work done by research and advocacy groups who work for
change in these important areas, by focusing on the drug use patterns and
potential harms of the hidden masses of non-dependent drug users. In addition,
we aim to identify new drug trends before they enter the wider population.
Creating a voice that is trusted for sharing that information is a challenge,
especially given that the most trusted source of information on drugs is from
others who use drugs. GDS sees its role as translating the expertise and ex per -
ience of hundreds of thousands of people who use drugs into engaging, credible
and useful information about drug use behaviour and free harm reduction
resources that are shared by our global media network and via our website.
Taking part in the Global Drug Survey is as important this year as any other
year. The world of drugs has changed dramatically in the last decade and we
are exploring this brave new world. We’ll be looking at some fascinating areas
from LSD micro-dosing and the acceptability of psychedelics in psychiatry to
how you’d rate different drugs, including alcohol, in terms of value for money.
We’ll be looking at the impact of health warnings, revisiting drugs and
policing, and researching the complex issue of sexual assault and consent in
the context of drug and alcohol use. We’ll continue our assessment of dark-
net drug markets and novel psychoactive drugs and ask the question ‘just
how much do you trust the person you get drugs from?’
As always, the survey is encrypted, anonymous and confidential and we
don’t collect IP addresses. The first time anyone sees the results is when our
media partners share them in May 2019.
To take part in the world’s largest drug survey, GDS2019, visit
The authors are members of the GDS Core Research Team
November 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 17