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Larissa Doucette

Intended to identify information that will help health experts respond quickly to potential outbreaks of illicit drug use and abuse, a new National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is under development, announced the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NDEWS will be designed to “scan social media and other web platforms to identify new trends” at both the national and regional level, according to a National Institute of Health press release. For example, NIDA plans to identify increased use of designer synthetic compounds with the system. When implemented, NDEWS will also be used to establish a nationwide network of addiction experts who can use the system to dispatch rapid response teams, and to quickly share information with the public. “By monitoring trends at the local level, we hope to prevent emerging drug problems from escalating or spreading to surrounding regions,” states Nora D. Volkow, MD, director, NIDA. The University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research is developing NDEWS with support from NIDA.