Pill testing clinic opens in Canberra

Party goers in the nation’s capital will be able to test their medications for free at Australia’s first in-patient pill testing clinic from Thursday.

The ACT Health initiative will provide information about potentially lethal substances that are being introduced into drugs without the user’s knowledge and helping them make safer choices.

It will initially launch within six months of successful pop-up trials at Canberra’s Groovin’ The Moo festival in 2018 and 2019.

A review of the 2019 festival trials revealed that 170 substances were tested, seven of which contained the potentially lethal substitute for MDMA, n-ethylpentylone.

All visitors with drugs containing this substance threw them into the amnesty basket and did not use them as planned.

“ACT leads the nation through our progressive approach to treating drug use as a public health issue and working with trusted partners in the community to reduce drug-related harm,” said ACT Health Minister Rachel Steven-Smith.

“We know the safest option is not to take drugs and that will always be our advice to the community. However, we understand that some people will choose to use drugs and initiatives are needed to reduce the harms associated with drug use.”

The CanTEST health and drug screening service will be operated by Directions Health Services in partnership with Pill Testing Australia and the Canberra Harm Minimization and Advocacy Alliance.

In addition to drug screening, the service also provides information on harm reduction, as well as advice and counseling.

The clinic, located in the City Community Health Center at 1 Moore Street, will be open every Thursday from 10:00 to 13:00 and every Friday from 18:00 to 21:00.

“Understanding the impact of these types of services is particularly important given the recent rise in youth deaths at music festivals and the discovery of potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl in seized heroin and cocaine,” Associate Professor Anna, independent evaluator. Olsen of the Australian National University said.

“Our previous work suggests that drug screening services represent a unique opportunity to engage people who use drugs, in particular those who do not normally have access to medical information about their drug use.”

Originally published as Opening of Australia’s first inpatient tablet testing service