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List of Announcements

  • VIENNA, Austria – June 2018: According to the National Drug-Related Deaths Database, NPS-related deaths in Scotland increased by 44 per cent to 363 deaths in 2016, primarily due to the number of deaths involving benzodiazepine-type NPS such as etizolam and diclazepam. Deaths relating to etizolam increased from 58 deaths in 2015 to 270 deaths in 2016, accounting for 33 per cent of all drug-related deaths reported in Scotland that year. Deaths relating to diclazepam also increased significantly by 33 per cent to 134 deaths in 2016. Overall, all NPS-related deaths reported in Scotland in 2016 involved the use of multiple substances. Among all drug-related deaths in 2016, etizolam was the third most frequently identified substance reported among drug-related deaths in 2016, after heroin/morphine (reported in 56 per cent of all drug-related deaths) and methadone (reported in 43 per cent of all drug-related deaths). In 2016, etizolam was involved in more female than male drug-related deaths. Benzodiazepine-type NPS generally accounted for 81 per cent of all NPS-related deaths in 2015 and 98 per cent in 2016.

    Figure 1. NPS-related deaths in Scotland, 2009-2016

    For more information, please see:

    National Services Scotland report on “The National Drug-Related Deaths Database (Scotland)”

    UNODC Global SMART Update Volume 18 “Non-medical use of benzodiazepines: a growing threat to public health?”


  • BRASILIA, Brazil – May 2018: From 15-17 May 2018, the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency, ANVISA (Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária), hosted the Second Regional Meeting on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in the Western Hemisphere in Brasilia, in Brazil, coordinated by the United Nations Offices on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Laboratory and Scientific Section (LSS). More than 70 experts from over 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere (Americas), as well as from Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, and regional and international organizations (including EMCDDA, Interpol, WHO, OAS/CICAD, WCO, and WCO RILO for Asia and the Pacific) attended the event and discussed NPS trends, challenges in identifying and detecting NPS, legislative and regulatory responses, and early warning systems.

    The meeting demonstrated the growing awareness of challenges posed by NPS, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. The great diversity among countries in the region in terms of capacity to detect, identify and monitor NPS and in measures taken to respond to the threat posed by NPS to public health will require continued close collaboration between countries and support from regional and international organizations.

    For more information, please see:

    ANVISA news release: Agência sedia reunião sobre novas drogas psicoativas (Spanish)

  • WASHINGTON D.C., United States – April 2018: As of 15 April 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received reports of 126 cases of people suffering from severe bleeding, including three deaths after the use of synthetic cannabinoid products. Between 10 March and 5 April 2018, several persons in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin were also presented to emergency departments with unexplained serious bleeding after having used synthetic cannabinoids. A working hypothesis of the authorities concerned is that these synthetic cannabinoid products were contaminated with brodifacoum. Laboratory investigation confirms brodifacoum exposure in at least 18 patients and at least three synthetic cannabinoid product samples related to this outbreak have tested positive for brodifacoum. Health authorities have warned the public about recent increased risks from use of these products.

    According to the Maryland Poison Center and the Maryland Department of Health, reported symptoms related to the use of these synthetic cannabinoid products include:

    • Bruising
    • Nosebleeds
    • Bleeding of the gums
    • Bleeding out of proportion to the level of injury
    • Vomiting blood
    • Blood in the urine or stool
    • Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding
    • Excessive back pain

    For further information and updates on this ongoing development, please see:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Outbreak Alert: Potential Life-Threatening Vitamin K-Dependent Antagonist Coagulopathy Associated With Synthetic Cannabinoids Use”

    Illinois Department of Public Health – “Synthetic Cannabinoids”

    UNODC Report “Synthetic cannabinoids: Key facts about the largest and most dynamic group of NPS”

  • CANBERRA, Australia – March 2018: In a “Global review of drug checking services operating in 2017” the Australian Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) analysed the features of 31 drug checking services operating in 20 countries across Europe, the Americas and Australasia. This report shows that there has been a strong increase in the number of organisations conducting drug checking and that they are employing a breadth of analytic techniques to identify and quantify the contents of drug samples. All drug checking services communicate their forensic results directly to individual service users and more than half also alert the public, health/welfare/outreach, researchers and promoters/event managers of the test results. Alongside the feedback about the drug sample’s content, almost every service provides a brief intervention and most provide harm reduction information. When particularly dangerous drug samples are identified, drug checking services can play a role in issuing early warning alerts and informing specific harm reduction interventions.


    Figure: Number of drug checking services operating in 2017 worldwide