History of the IPCS INTOX Programme
The seed for the IPCS INTOX Project, now Programme, was sown in October 1985 at a meeting between IPCS, the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) and the World Federation of Associations of Clinical Toxicology and Poison Control Centres to consider the roles and functions of poisons centres.
Prior to the meeting a joint survey had revealed that only 11 developing countries had well-established poisons centres. Meeting participants recognized that there was much scope for international cooperation between poisons centres, and the development of mechanisms for the exchange of evaluated information, including case data, in comparable form was identified as a priority. A pilot activity was subsequently launched by IPCS to exchange information on chemicals and pharmaceuticals between poisons centres.
In 1986 IPCS became aware that the Canadian Government, through the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC), was providing support in Sri Lanka and Egypt to establish poisons centres. The two organizations agreed that the development of a basic but standardized information package to assist in the establishment of poisons centres would be of significant benefit to developing countries. At a subsequent meeting in 1987 the following information needs for poisons centres were identified:
- Toxicological data on chemical substances, pharmaceuticals and natural toxins, to assist with diagnosis and treatment of exposures.
- Information on locally available products.
- Data on cases of poisoning that could be used for toxicovigilance and the improvement of patient management.
The IPCS INTOX Project was formally launched at a meeting in London, United Kingdom in March 1988. IDRC provided the initial funding for IPCS, in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) and the Centre de Toxicologie du Québec (CTQ), to develop a multilingual (English, French and Spanish), interactive, computerized poisons information package. This package has now become the INTOX Databank and the INTOX Data Management System. Subsequent funding for the development of the INTOX package has been provided from several sources, notably the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UK Department of Health.