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February 2020 - UNODC-SMART: New precursor trends present significant challenges – Global SMART Update Vol. 23

VIENNA, Austria – February 2020: The current Global SMART Update Volume 23 -“An expanding synthetic drug – Implications for precursor control” provides insight to how the expansion of the synthetic drugs market is driven by recent key trends and developments in precursor chemicals used in illicit drug manufacture. The Update documents the use of non-scheduled and “designer” precursors in recent years, especially in the manufacture of amphetamine, methamphetamine and fentanyl, and how these developments pose significant challenges to international and states’ precursor control regimes. These significant challenges include timely detection of and agile response to new developments in illicit manufacture; and identification of additional measures to complement and/or enhance present control regimes in response to these new phenomena. The Update also outlines possible options that Member States may wish to adopt in order to develop an effective response to these challenges, that is, understanding clandestine manufacturing through drug profil­ing, undertaking new national legal approaches to precursor control, establishing public-private partner­ships and enhancing international/regional cooperation.

As the discussion on new precursor chemicals continues, methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) and its optical isomers, a “designer precursor” frequently used in the illicit manufacture of amphetamine and methamphetamine, was recently recommended by the International Narcotics Control Board for possible inclusion in Table I of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 at the upcoming 63rd Session of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs in March 2020.

The Global SMART Updates are a biannual publication of the Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends (SMART) programme, implemented by the UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Section.

For more information, please see: 

Global SMART Update Vol. 23: “An expanding synthetic drugs market – Implications for precursor control”

Global SMART Update Vol. 22: “The ATS market 10 years after the 2009 Plan of Action”

Recommendation from the International Narcotics Control Board concerning the inclusion of methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) in Table 1 of the 1988 Convention

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