The Committee believes that a stronger, better organized, and accountable system for poison prevention and control is in the national interest and must be supported by federal funding and oversight. This will probably require the passage of federal legislation (or the amendment of the current poison control center stabilization legislation) to define specific roles for federal agencies, a funding formula, the definition of contractual obligations, and mechanisms for accountability of the system. There also must be mechanisms in place for effective collaboration and cooperation among the federal agencies with responsibilities in this area and effective linkages to the counterpart state and local agencies. Stakeholders at the federal level include representatives from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and emergency medical services.
Finally, the Committee sees a need for a much stronger knowledge base related to poison prevention and control. We have already identified the need to improve the research capacity of the poison control centers themselves. Realizing this goal depends on a federal commitment to fund toxicological, epidemiological, and health services research in this field. Such a commitment must be built into the research mandates of the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In summary, the proposed Poison Prevention and Control System will be different from what currently exists in several key areas:
The component agencies, including the poison control centers, will work cooperatively to reduce the burden of poisoning;
The federal legislative base will provide a national mandate and federal core funding;
Poison exposure data will be publicly available in real time for agency decision making and for merging with other data sources;