State-of-the-art methods are on their way to assist law enforcement agencies in their fight against illegal drugs in the country. This was the statement of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero E. de Vera III as he inaugurated Tuesday, June 4, the advanced research laboratory to test illegal substances at the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila).
Representing President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the launching of the laboratory, Chairman De Vera lauded the initiative of UP Manila to link with the University of California San Francisco and various law enforcement agencies to strengthen local capacity in drug testing.
UP Drugs of Abuse Research Laboratory (UP DARL) is funded by the CHED– Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (CHED-PCARI) program. The said initiative brings together top scientists, researchers and faculty of Philippine universities and the University of California to do joint research, faculty exchanges, scholarships and training on issues and problems facing the country. UP-DARL is one of the 38 collaborative research and development initiatives being implemented under CHED-PCARI program.
UP DARL is a research initiative that will fill in the gaps in laboratory diagnosis of substance use and abuse in the country. Currently, the Department of Health lists over a thousand laboratories accredited for drug screening. However, only four are licensed by the department’s Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau to operate as drug confirmatory laboratories.
The shortage of such facilities hampers the realization of drug-related initiatives and constrains progress towards overall health-related development goals.
“UP-DARL will allow for testing both traditional illegal drugs and novel designer drugs. It will facilitate the identification of a wider class of drug compounds not presently captured by existing testing laboratories in the Philippines,” said project leader Dr. Monet Loquias, professor and dean of the UP College of Pharmacy.
Among the target key outcomes of this project is the development of a drug testing kit that can identify more than 100 illegal substances in individuals. The current available drug testing kits can only identify 4 to 5 illegal substances. The new drug testing kit will also be cheaper since these will be manufactured locally.
Aside from CHED, representatives from the office of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and its member agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), DOH, and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) attended the occasion.
The inauguration of UP-DARL happened alongside the Conference on the Substances of Abuse in the Philippines attended by professionals and students in related fields.
J. PROSPERO E. DE VERA III, DPA
Commission on Higher Education