Toxicological information and data network - A European challenge? Results from a workshop, September 2002, Berlin
Objective: Poison information centres require high quality data to give adequate advice. Thesedata include product formulations, data about cases, and general toxicological information. InEuropean states different approaches are taken to gathering this information, particularly productdata. In some states the level of information about product composition is good, while in others itis inadequate. The use of electronic means for providing and exchanging information isbecoming more widespread. However, although PCs use computers for their daily work, theiruse to exchange experience and knowledge is poorly developed. Method: To explore thedesirability and possibility of improving electronic data exchange in Europe, a workshop"Toxicological Information and Data Network - A European Challenge?" was organised onbehalf of the Research Project Toxicological Data and Information Network (TDI). TDI wasinitiated and supported by the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safetyand realised by five German PCs, the BgVV, and the German Cosmetics, Toiletries, Perfumesand Detergents Association. Software was developed for electronic transfer from industry topoison centres, and other partners. This project was used as the basis for a discussion about thepossible benefits of data exchange between European PCs and agencies involved in riskassessment, health policy and industry. Results: An overview about co-operation between theabove mentioned Partners, and potential data needs was given. The approaches used forgathering product information in six different states showed broad heterogeneity. In somecountries very strict regulations governed the notification of formulations. At a round tablediscussion participants agreed that data exchange of information about products, cases andsubstances was an important task. It was also noted that industry did not want to have multiplepartners in different countries but ideally only one partner in Europe. This partner would ensuredata would be transferred to others. It was felt that the development of a system for dataexchange would be useful and would increase the quality of data. However, there were nocommon agreed standards for electronic data transmission between the European PCs. EAPCCThas already worked on data formats for products, and it was felt that EAPCCT should support aninitiative for implementation of electronic formats. Conclusion: The workshop has clearly shownthat there is a high degree of agreement that a co-operative approach is needed, and thatEAPCCT as the representative association of poison centres and clinical toxicologists shouldplay a major role in this process. This minisymposium was therefore organised to discuss how acommon electronic data exchange format for products could be established which all poisoncentres can use and which considers all relevant information about products. A proposal for anelectronic format and a transfer protocol will be presented and discussed.