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List of Announcements

  • Vienna, AUSTRIA – January 2017: A joint UNODC-TIAFT (The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists) data collection initiative piloted a tool for collecting toxicology data related to NPS. This initiative aims at improving the mechanism for the prioritization of NPS with the greatest potential harm for international action. In the pilot exercise, information was obtained from 128 NPS use cases submitted by 15 toxicologists. Among these cases, 76 per cent were associated with poly-drug use involving over 190 substances and metabolites. A direct assignment of causality to a specific substance is difficult. This study demonstrates that establishing ‘associations’ of substances with adverse events in cases of poly-substance use is a prudent approach. This is done with the view of assigning causality only after a detailed analyses of a large sample set of such ‘associations’. The results of the study were published in Forensic Science International, “Toxicology in international drug control—Prioritizing the most harmful, persistent and prevalent substances”.

    Figure 1: Frequency of NPS associated with post-mortem cases in the pilot study

    For more information, please see:

    Article on Toxicology in international drug control—Prioritizing the most harmful, persistent and prevalent substanceshttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073816304984

  • BERLIN, GERMANY – December 2016: In Germany, the new psychoactive substances act (NpSG) entered into force with its publication in the Federal Law Gazette on 26 November 2016. This law prohibits the acquisition, possession and sale of new psychoactive substances (NPS) as well as sanctioning the passing on of NPS. The NpSG does not apply to substances already controlled under the Medicines Law or the Narcotic Law and explicitly allows accepted use for commercial, industrial and research purposes. In particular, the NpSG introduces generic controls over two NPS groups, i.e. phenethylamines and synthetic cannabinoids.

    For more information, please see:

    New Psychoactive Substances Act – Neue-psychoaktive-Stoffe-Gesetz (NpSG)

    Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government of Germany – Press release

    Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) – Press release

     

  • SCOTLAND, United Kingdom – December 2016: The report titled “Understanding the patterns of use, motives, and harms of New Psychoactive Substances in Scotland” presents the findings of a collaborative research project between the Scottish Drugs Forum and Glasgow University addressing new psychoactive substances (NPS) use in Scotland. Carried out between December 2015 and July 2016, this research features a survey that was conducted among drug users of five population groups: vulnerable young people, people in contact with mental health services, people affected by homelessness, people who inject drugs (PWID) and men who have sex with men (MSM).

    The survey results show that among respondents who had used an NPS in the last 6 months, 41 per cent had used synthetic cannabinoids and 19 per cent mephedrone. In general, NPS users displayed a high tendency of polydrug use, with only one respondent reporting to have solely used NPS. Among the key motivations for initially trying NPS were the ease of access, curiosity and influence of peers, as well as pleasure, price and potency. Concerning the harms associated with the consequences of NPS use, 25 per cent of all respondents who had used an NPS in the last 6 months reported anxiety, 12 per cent reported paranoia and 20 per cent reported depression. Moreover, the majority of respondents reported negative effects on their family relationships relating to NPS use.



    Report to the Scottish Government – Understanding the patterns of use, motives, and harms of New Psychoactive Substances in Scotland

  • Growing international evidence, obtained in recent years, documents increasing numbers of serious adverse events and deaths associated with several emerging synthetic opioids. Cases confirmed by toxicological analysis include deaths caused by: acetylfentanyl* - 21 cases in the USA [1][2][3][4] and 1 case in Japan [5], butyrylfentanyl - 3 cases in the USA [6][7] and 1 case in Switzerland [8], furanylfentanyl - 3 cases in the USA [9], ocfentanil - 1 case in Belgium [10] and 1 case in Switzerland [11], 4-fluorobutyrfentanyl – 2 cases in Poland [12], AH-7921* - 1 case in Sweden [13] and 1 case in the USA [14], MT-45* – 1 case in the USA [15], U-47700 - 58 cases in the USA [9][16][17] and 1 case in the United Kingdom [18].

    In addition, cases reported to the EMCDDA in recent years include: 8 acute intoxications and 32 deaths associated with acetylfentanyl in Germany, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom [19], 15 deaths associated with AH-7921 in Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom[20], and 28 deaths associated with MT-45 in Sweden [21]. Of late, 23 deaths associated with acrylfentanyl were reported in Sweden in 2016 [22].



    * acetylfentanyl, AH-7921 and MT-45 are under international control.

     

    References

    [1] Fort C, Curtis B, Nichols C, Niblo C. Acetyl Fentanyl Toxicity: Two Case Reports. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2016 Jul 13.

    [2] Lozier MJ, Boyd M, Stanley C, Ogilvie L, King E, Martin C, Lewis L. Acetyl Fentanyl, a Novel Fentanyl Analog, Causes 14 Overdose Deaths in Rhode Island, March-May 2013. Journal of medical toxicology: official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology. 2015 Jun;11(2):208-17.

    [3] McIntyre IM, Trochta A, Gary RD, Wright J, Mena O. An acute butyr-fentanyl fatality: a case report with postmortem concentrations. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2016 Mar 1;40(2):162-6.

    [4] Poklis J, Poklis A, Wolf C, Mainland M, Hair L, Devers K, Chrostowski L, Arbefeville E, Merves M, Pearson J. Postmortem tissue distribution of acetyl fentanyl, fentanyl and their respective nor-metabolites analyzed by ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Forensic Science International. 2015 Dec 31;257:435-41.

    [5] Takase I, Koizumi T, Fujimoto I, Yanai A, Fujimiya T. An autopsy case of acetyl fentanyl intoxication caused by insufflation of ‘designer drugs’. Legal Medicine. 2016 Jul 31;21:38-44.

    [6] McIntyre IM, Trochta A, Gary RD, Wright J, Mena O. An acute butyr-fentanyl fatality: a case report with postmortem concentrations. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2016 Mar 1;40(2):162-6.

    [7] Poklis J, Poklis A, Wolf C, Hathaway C, Arbefeville E, Chrostowski L, Devers K, Hair L, Mainland M, Merves M, Pearson J. Two fatal intoxications involving butyryl fentanyl. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2016 Jun 23.

    [8] Staeheli SN, Baumgartner MR, Gauthier S, Gascho D, Jarmer J, Kraemer T, Steuer AE. Time-dependent postmortem redistribution of butyrfentanyl and its metabolites in blood and alternative matrices in a case of butyrfentanyl intoxication. Forensic Science International. 2016 Sep 30;266:170-7.

    [9] Mohr AL, Friscia M, Papsun D, Kacinko SL, Buzby D, Logan BK. Analysis of Novel Synthetic Opioids U-47700, U-50488 and Furanyl Fentanyl by LC–MS/MS in Postmortem Casework. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2016 Sep 1.

    [10] Coopman V, Cordonnier J, De Leeuw M, Cirimele V. Ocfentanil overdose fatality in the recreational drug scene. Forensic Science International. 2016 Sep 30;266:469-73.

    [11] Dussy FE, Hangartner S, Hamberg C, Berchtold C, Scherer U, Schlotterbeck G, Wyler D, Briellmann TA. An Acute Ocfentanil Fatality: A Case Report with Postmortem Concentrations. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2016 Sep 20.

    [12] Rojkiewicz M, Majchrzak M, Celiński R, Kuś P, Sajewicz M. Identification and physicochemical characterization of 4‐fluorobutyrfentanyl (1‐((4‐fluorophenyl)(1‐phenethylpiperidin‐4‐yl) amino) butan‐1‐one, 4‐FBF) in seized materials and the postmortem biological samples. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2016 Jan 1.

    [13] Kronstrand R, Thelander G, Lindstedt D, Roman M, Kugelberg FC. Fatal intoxications associated with the designer opioid AH-7921. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2014 Oct 1;38(8):599-604.

    [14] Vorce SP, Knittel JL, Holler JM, Magluilo J, Levine B, Berran P, Bosy TZ. A fatality involving AH-7921. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2014 May 1;38(4):226-30.

    [15] Papsun D, Krywanczyk A, Vose JC, Bundock EA, Logan BK. Analysis of MT-45, a Novel Synthetic Opioid, in Human Whole Blood by LC–MS-MS and Its Identification in a Drug-Related Death. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2016 May 1;40(4):313-7.

    [16] McIntyre IM, Gary RD, Joseph S, Stabley R. A Fatality Related to the Synthetic Opioid U-47700: Postmortem Concentration Distribution. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2016 Oct 26.

    [17] Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. Schedules of controlled substances: temporary placement of Temporary Placement of U-47700 into Schedule I. Final Order. Federal register. 2016 Sep 7;81(173): 61636.

    [18] Elliott SP, Brandt SD, Smith C. The first reported fatality associated with the synthetic opioid 3, 4-dichloro-N-[2-(dimethylamino) cyclohexyl]-N-methylbenzamide (U-47700) and implications for forensic analysis. Drug testing and analysis. 2016 May 27.

    [19] EMCDDA–Europol Joint Report on acetylfentanyl, 2016

    [20] EMCDDA Report on the risk assessment of AH-7921, 2014

    [21] EMCDDA Report on the risk assessment of MT-45, 2015

    [22] Rättsmedicinalverket. Akrylfentanyl narkotikaklassas. 2016. (Swedish). Retrieved from http://www.rmv.se/?id=433 on the 25 August 2016.

  • LISBON, Portugal – November 2016: In August 2016, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published a rapid communication on drug-related hospital emergency presentations which draws on data that includes a total of 10 956 presentations in Europe spanning over a two-year period from October 2013 to September 2015. The records of drug presentations are based on the patient’s self-report and/or the clinical interpretation of the drugs used by the clinicians managing the patient and collecting the data.

    Over the two-year period, 7.0 per cent of all drug presentations in Europe involved NPS use. In year 1 (October 2013 to September 2014), 5.6 per cent of reported drug presentations involved an NPS which increased to 8.5 per cent in year 2 (October 2014 to September 2015). Synthetic cathinones were the most frequently reported substance group and mephedrone was the most frequently reported NPS. The report also noted a significant increase in the number of cases involving synthetic cannabinoids receptor agonists between year 1 and year 2.

    Figure 1: Drug categories reported by the Euro-DEN centres in year 1 and year 2


    Source: European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Hospital emergency presentations and acute drug toxicity in Europe, Lisbon, August 2016.

    *Mephedrone has been under international control as of November 2015.


    For more information, please see:
    EMCDDA report – Hospital emergency presentations and acute drug toxicity in Europe

  • DUBLIN, Ireland – November 2016: Commissioned by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) in Ireland and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, the bulletin “Prevalence of Drug Use and Gambling in Ireland and Drug Use in Northern Ireland” presents the key findings from the fourth drug use survey of households in Ireland and Northern Ireland conducted from August 2014 to August 2015. The survey results are based on responses from 7,005 people in the Republic of Ireland and 2,511 people in Northern Ireland aged 15-64 years.

    With regard to new psychoactive substances (NPS), a decrease in the last year use of NPS was reported among respondents in Ireland aged 15 to 64 dropping from 3.5 per cent in 2010/11 to 0.8 per cent in 2014/15. In Northern Ireland, last year use of NPS is also reported to have declined from 1.0 per cent in 2010/11 to 0.3 per cent in 2014/15. Specifically, last year mephedrone* use was reported to have decreased in Northern Ireland from 1.1 per cent in 2010/11 to 0.5 per cent in 2014/15 among people aged 15 to 64.




    *Mephedrone has been under international control as of November 2015.

    For more information, please see:
    Ireland and Northern Ireland Bulletin - Prevalence of Drug Use and Gambling in Ireland and Drug Use in Northern Ireland

  • LONDON, United Kingdom – November 2016: Based on statistics that were gathered by the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016, Public Health England has released a report presenting information on individuals receiving treatment for drug and/or alcohol use.

    Of the 288,843 people (aged 18 and over) that were in contact with drug and alcohol services over this period, the majority had problems with opiate or alcohol use, while 2,042 people had problems with new psychoactive substances (NPS) use which signifies a 77 per cent increase from the previous year when 1,154 people were reported to have problems with NPS use. Among people citing problems with NPS use, 50 per cent reported of housing problems at the point of commencing treatment and 41 per cent had been referred to community treatment from prison or probation.

    Figure 1: Trends in the number of new registrants to treatment citing club drug use


    Source: Public Health England, adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS).

     

    For more information, please see:

    Public Health England report – Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS)
    December 2015 – United Kingdom: Treatment demand for NPS doubles and strong increase of mephedrone treatment reported in England

  • MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - October 2016: According to an alert reported by the Early Warning System of Uruguay (SAT), 62 blotter paper stamps laced with 25B-NBOMe* were seized in San Jose, Uruguay, in June 2016. The SAT was introduced by the National Drug Board of Uruguay in November 2014 to detect new psychoactive substances (NPS) and their patterns of use. Since the SAT was initiated in Uruguay, there have also been alerts of emergency room cases, one of which involved the use of 25B-NBOMe.