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Harm reduction initiative seeks to track tainted drugs, analyze supply

A new statewide harm reduction initiative called PA Groundhogs will provide free drug-checking services in an effort to track the movement of tainted substances and improve health care outcomes for people who use drugs.

Using mass spectrometry technology, PA Groundhogs will develop regional profiles of Pennsylvania’s illicit drug supply and help identify hot spots in the state.

According to a news release, the statewide data portal will be able to be track changes in the illicit drug supply and anticipate overdose spikes before they happen, helping to inform medical advisers, local authorities and people who use drugs.

The organization has partnered with the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education in Willow Grove, Pa., the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network and medical professionals. It offers free street-to-lab drug checking and test strips.

“By providing individuals with the means to verify the safety and authenticity of drugs, PA Groundhogs can prevent potential harm and save lives,” said Carla Sofronski, executive director of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network. “A transparent and accessible system for drug testing is not only a responsible approach but also a necessary one in today’s society.”

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