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List of Announcements

  • LA PAZ, Bolivia – May 2020: The Bolivian Counter-Narcotics Police Force strengthened its capacity to identify synthetic drugs including new psychoactive substances (NPS) and their precursors with handheld electronic drug analyzers donated by UNODC through the Global SMART Programme funded by Global Affairs Canada. In December 2019, days after the devices were deployed for the first time, a 1.5 kg shipment of tablets from Spain was seized at El Alto Air Terminal. The content of the tablets was identified as MDMA (‘ecstasy’), a controlled synthetic drug.

    In the context of Bolivia this seizure marks a significant amount, as the country has not reported ‘ecstasy’ seizures to UNODC since 2006. Shipments containing tablets with high doses of MDMA or crystalline MDMA have become an increasing concern in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years. The Global SMART Programme works with Governments in more than 20 countries of the region to support early warning systems and improve national capacity to identify synthetic drugs and NPS.

    For more information, please see:

    UNODC, UNODC Everywhere, Operation “Happy New Year Bolivia 2020” (EN, SP)

    UNODC, Global SMART Newsletter for Latin America and the Caribbean: Emergence of New Psychoactive Substances in Latin America and the Caribbean (March 2019)

  • VIENNA, Austria - April 2020: The potential for law enforcement and border control officers involved in drug control to be exposed to COVID-19 during the execution of their routine duties has increased significantly. Similar to the principles of safe-handling, avoiding secondary exposure and cross-contamination are also important measures in infection control. The safety procedures, protocols and measures taken to protect officers from the risk of accidental exposure when handling dangerous/toxic substances, such as synthetic drugs, can also protect them from the risk of exposure to communicable diseases as COVID-19.

    UNODC LSS has developed Guidelines for the safe handling of substances and management of exposure risk for law enforcement and customs officers as part of the ‘safe handling’ series of technical guidelines and training materials. It is an evidence-based guidance document to support law enforcement and customs officers in the safe handling and management of exposure risks to dangerous/toxic substances, and the associated safety and risk mitigation procedures. The guidelines outline practical information and guidance that can also be leveraged to help protect front-line officers from risk of exposure and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable diseases, while enabling them to carry out their operational duties with confidence.

    Source: UNODC, Guidelines for the safe handling of substances and management of exposure risk for law enforcement and customs officers. 

    For more information, please see:

  • VIENNA, Austria – March 2020: At its 63rd regular session from 2 to 6 March 2020, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs decided to place twelve substances and one precursor under international control. Following recommendations by the WHO, twelve substances were added to the relevant schedules of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Additionally, following recommendations by the INCB, one precursor was added to Table I of the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

    Added to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol:

              1. Crotonylfentanyl- Schedule I
              2. Valerylfentanyl - Schedule I

    Added to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971:

              3. DOC (2,5-Dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine) - Schedule I
              4. AB-FUBINACA - Schedule II         
              5. 5F-AMB-PINACA (5F-AMB, 5F-MMB-PINACA) - Schedule II         
              6. 5F-MDMB-PICA (5F-MDMB-2201) - Schedule II         
              7. 4F-MDMB-BINACA - Schedule II         
              8. 4-CMC (4-chloromethcathinone, clephedrone) - Schedule II         
              9. N-ethylhexedrone - Schedule II         
              10. alpha-PHP - Schedule II         
              11. Flualprazolam - Schedule IV         
              12. Etizolam - Schedule IV

    Added to the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988:

              1. Methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) (including its optical isomers) - Table I 

    For further information please see:

    EWA news clip on substances recommended for scheduling by the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence: WHO recommends 12 NPS for scheduling.

    For detailed information on the forty-second meeting, substance evaluation and previous committees of the WHO ECDD, please click here.
  • 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

  • WASHINGTON DC., United States – November 2020: We are pleased to announce the Seventh International Conference on NPS to be held from 17 to 19 November 2020 in Washington DC. The conference is jointly organised by the International Society for the Study on Emerging Drugs (ISSED), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), University of Hertfordshire (UH) and the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education.

    The main objectives of the seventh event are to share evidence-based information on NPS, including fentanyl and derivatives; improve understanding of clinical treatment and management of NPS use; explore policy and legislative responses to NPS; develop innovative prevention measures for vulnerable individuals; share analytical approaches to NPS detection and identification; explore motivations and socio-cultural factors underlying NPS use; networking and providing the opportunity meet leading experts in the field. The two-day scientific meeting program will be preceded on 17 November by a series of half day workshops covering clinical, treatment or toxicological topics, which will be an opportunity for networking and problem solving in an interactive environment.

    The International Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) conference series, which started in Budapest in 2012, aims to share knowledge and strengthen collaboration on NPS among multidisciplinary professionals at the international level.

    To attend this conference please register on the conference webpage. Abstract submission is open until Thuesday, 30 June 2020.

    Source: VII International Conference on NPS


    For more information, please see:

    Conference webpage:


    Abstract submission:

  • VIENNA, Austria – February 2020: The second volume of the Current NPS Threats was published with information from the UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS. Data from seizure reports, post-mortem toxicology cases, clinical admissions, and other casework allowed the identification of some key recent developments regarding health threats posed by NPS. Similar to volume I, the new report illustrates that poly-drug use continues to feature highly in cases of fatalities associated with NPS. In some countries, benzodiazepine-type NPS are increasingly associated in cases of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) (Figure 1). Incidents of kratom identification in poly-drug use cases are also being reported in a number of countries.  

    Figure 1: Most reported NPS in DUID cases in 2018 and 2019 

    Note: Illustrated by relative size of substance name displayed in relation to number of reports

    For more information, please see:

    Current NPS Threats Volume II, February 2020

    UNODC Early Warning Advisory (EWA) Toxicology Portal leaflet (2018)


  • LONDON, United Kingdom – January 2020:  The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) issued a report highlighting the pharmacology and toxic effects of fentanyl and related analogues, details of the misuse potential of both pharmaceutical and illicitly manufactured fentanyl compounds, and a summary of the associated harms as documented internationally and in the UK.  ACMD states that despite robust generic control on fentanyl analogues, the rates of registered deaths involving fentanyl and its analogues in the UK has increased over the past decade, with deaths likely to be under-represented. They conclude that there remains an ongoing risk of fentanyl and its analogues as well as other synthetic opioids infiltrating the UK heroin market and resulting in increasing rates of drug-related deaths. ACMD recommends research into and monitoring of trends (e.g. supply, demand, precursors, drug products etc.) and drug strategies relating to fentanyl and its analogues. ACMD also recommends training of health professionals in the appropriate therapeutic use of strong opioids and to include analysis of fentanyl and its analogues for all deaths related to drug poisoning.

    At the global level, NPS with opioid effect including fentanyl analogues accounted for only 2% of the total NPS reported the UNODC Early Warning Advisory (EWA) while in 2019, their number has grown to more than 75 substances representing 8% of the total.  The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has recently reviewed two fentanyl analogues and recommended their inclusion in Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol (see UNODC Early Warning Advisory news on NPS December 2019) – a decision the  Commission on Narcotic Drugs may take at their 63rd meeting in the first week of March 2020.

    Figure 1: Annual number of unique synthetic NPS with opioid effects, 2009 – 2019*

    Source: UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS (as of Dec. 2019).

    *Note: 2019 data is not complete

    For more information please see:

    Misuse of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues

    World Health Organization 2019 recommendation for 12 NPS for scheduling

  • VIENNA, Austria – January 2020: As of December 2019, a total of 950 unique new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been reported to the UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS. Stimulants continue to account for the largest proportion of synthetic NPS at 36 percent, followed by synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (31 percent) and classic hallucinogens (15 percent). Significantly, the proportion of synthetic NPS with opioid effects saw an increase from 2 to 8 percent from 2015 to 2019. The proportion of dissociatives and sedatives/hypnotics remained stable at 3 percent. 

    Figure 1: Proportion of synthetic new psychoactive substances, by psychoactive effect group, as of December 2019

    Source: UNODC Early Warning Advisory on new psychoactive substances.

    Note: The analysis of the pharmacological effects comprises synthetic NPS registered up to December 2019.
    Plant-based substances were excluded from the analysis as they usually contain a large number of different substances, some of which may not have been known and whose effects and interactions are not fully understood.