Following a call in 2013 for funding proposals under the heading of Drug Prevention and Information, the European Commission awarded funding to a multi-institutional partnership across five countries led by the University of Hertfordshire, UK, to undertake a project looking at Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS).
This project was called EU-MADNESS, standing for EUropean-wide, Monitoring, Analysis and knowledge Dissemination on Novel/Emerging pSychoactiveS: integrated EU NPS monitoring & profiling to prevent health harms and update professionals. The aims of the 24-month project, which started on 1 April 2014 and was led by Professor Fabrizio Schifano, were: “to monitor, test, profile, and feed back into education and prevention knowledge relating to the types of NPS emerging in Europe, their associated characteristics and potential harms”.
The project had four integrated Workstreams (WS).
WS 1 monitored and analysed fatalities and ‘near-misses’ related to NPS ingestion. Data from these reports informed the choice of compounds investigated in WS 2 and WS 3.
WS 2 linked spectral data of established drugs of abuse with their biological data generated by WS 3
WS 3 examined pharmacological and behavioural effects of NPS; which together with information from WS 2 facilitated the development of computational models for recognising and predicting mode of action, properties and potency of unknown NPSs according to their likely chemical structure.
WS 4 involved the preparation of educational materials and resources on NPS, in a number of European languages, on the health risks of NPS for use in inter-professional medical, pharmacy and health education settings.