Drug Enforcement Administration Database Could Help Identify Areas With High Levels of Drug Abuse
The Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday announced that it is testing a computer database that will allow federal agents to monitor death reports from local medical examiners and toxicologists in an effort to identify areas that should be targeted for drug abuse investigations, USA Today reports.
Testing the database -- known as the National Drug-Related Death Reporting System -- will cost about $1.5 million and will occur in Maryland; Kentucky; West Virginia; Florida; St. Louis; Westchester County, N.Y.; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C. Medical examiners in the test areas will post death reports and other information on a private Internet database that will be monitored by federal agents, and the examiners will receive passwords so they can communicate with one another through an electronic bulletin board.
DEA also could use the bulletin board to post alerts about emerging problems, DEA Administrator Karen Tandy said, adding that officials hope the database is effective enough to justify expansion.
Mary Ripple, deputy chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland, said the database "has a lot of potential to catch drug abuse trends sooner." Currently, most information about trends in drug-related deaths comes from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which is run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Leinwand, USA Today, 11/18).