TASKS AND FUNCTIONS
The National Toxicological Information Centre (NTIC) is a specialised institution engaged in providing professional information in case of poisoning by pharmaceuticals, household and industrial products, chemicals, mushrooms, plants, animals and illicit drugs. It gives information about composition of toxic agents, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, toxicity and symptoms in case of acute poisoning and also advises appropriate treatment.
The NTIC is the only institution of this kind in Slovakia and serves a population of 5 million inhabitants. It is located at University Hospital in Bratislava, Department of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. This non-stop 24-hour toxicological information service is provided to the health professionals, other medical staff and to the general public.
The centre cooperates with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Economy, the State Institute for Drug Control, the Public Health Authority, the Centre for Chemical Substances and Preparations.
The other tasks:
- regularly updating the toxicological database of the centre
- annually preparing the list of obligatory antidotes for health facilities and supplying antidotes according to the demand from clinical wards throughout Slovakia
- keeping records on antidote stores in Slovakia in cooperation with hospital pharmacies
- providing specific microscopic analyses of mushroom spores in biological material and meals, identifying mushrooms and recommending the optimal treatment, in the case of acute mushroom intoxications
- keeping a database on the composition of chemical products imported or produced in Slovakia in accordance with Slovak Act No 67/ 2010
- carrying out necessary precautions in cooperation with the producers and importers of pharmaceuticals and industrial products
- lecturing to pre-graduate (Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine Comenius University) and post-graduate (Slovak Medical University) health professionals
- publishing and educational activities concerning the prevention of acute intoxications (books, brochures, posters, lectures for the general public)
The fast and cost-effective distribution of antidotes is vital when treating acute poisonings. NTIC has a central role in developing an efficient system for supplying antidotes, while every year it develops the mandatory “List of obligatory antidotes for health facilities”.
There are three different levels of antidote storage in Slovakia:
Local: Antidotes that need to be available immediately or are commonly used and should be stored in every hospital (for example, acetylcysteine, flumazenil, naloxone, obidoxime, silibinin). These items are kept in a hospital pharmacy, an emergency department or intensive care unit.
Regional: Expensive or rarely used antidotes such as edetate calcium disodium, DMPS, deferoxamine. The university hospital pharmacy in every region keeps and coordinates the storage.
National: Financially demanding antidotes such as digitalis antitoxin, fomepizole, hydroxocobalamin, antidotum thalii. The NTIC operates a 24-hour service with these antidotes. Emergency transports of antidotes are operated by ambulances or delivery firms.
In addition, an emergency supply of all antidotes is stored at the NTIC.
The NTIC keeps a national database covering current information about types, quantities and location of the antidote storages in all Slovak hospitals. The cost of antidotes in the regional and local storages are covered by the hospitals but expensive antidotes stored at the NTIC are funded by the Ministry of Health.
The Slovak NTIC is an important and effective health care body. To maintain the effectiveness of the national database requires regular updates and close cooperation between the NTIC and hospital pharmacies.