New psychoactive substances - analysing the problem


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Presentation by Roumen Sedefov (European Monitoring Center for Drug and Drug Addictions (EMCDDA)) on the occasion of the EESC hearing on New Psychoactive Substances (Brussels, 27 November 2013)

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New psychoactive substances - analysing the problem

  1. 1. New drugs New psychoactive substances Analysing the problem Roumen Sedefov European Economic and Social Committee, Public Hearing, 27 November 2013
  2. 2. I will ask and maybe answer… • What are NPS and what do we know about them? • Why should we be concerned about them? • What information do we need in order to respond effectively to them?
  3. 3. From designer drugs to legal highs How did we get here? The role of globalisation and innovation
  4. 4. The new drug phenomenon in the EU today Four broad and overlapping groups • Designer drugs: produced in clandestine labs and sold on illicit drug market as replacements for ‘ecstasy’ or ‘speed’ or heroin. Users mostly unaware that they are taking them • Legal highs: produced by chemical companies and sold on open market, often as branded products in sophisticated packaging. Sold on the Internet, in head shops and by street-level drug dealers • Dietary supplements: sold on open market aimed at people going to the gym, looking to loose weight. Sold on Amazon and eBay Limited data on toxicity and harms • Medicines: diverted within Europe or imported
  5. 5. Huge growth in number, type and availability 303 new drugs notified 2005–2013, 67 notified in 2013 so far… More than 200 have been notified since 2010
  6. 6. Types of products & users are also broadening out… • Traditionally most new drugs were marketed to ‘recreational’ users: psychonauts, early adopters (dance music fans) • Diffusion may have then spread to the broader population (e.g. mephedrone) • Now seeing both branded and unbranded products used by: • lifestyle users: gym-goers (‘Craze’, DMAA), weight loss, other enhancement reasons (phenibut) • problematic users: IV opioid injectors using stimulants (mephedrone and MDPV) or fentanyls (ocfentanyl, carfentanyl) • self-medication (overlap with all user groups): e.g. importation of noncontrolled benzodiazepines from outside EU
  7. 7. Seizures of synthetic cannabinoids Multi-kilogram quantities usually shipped from China Amount Cannabinoid Date 54 kg JWH-018 quinolinylcarboxylate derivative Nov 2012 7 kg JWH-018 carboxamide derivative Jul 2012 5 kg JWH-073 Aug 2012 21 kg JWH-018 adamantyl carboxamide derivative Jul 2012 10 kg 5F-UR-144 Jan 2013 20 kg AM-2201 Jan 2013
  8. 8. Processing and packaging in Europe Potent synthetic cannabinoids sold as 'herbal' smoking mixtures
  9. 9. Internet shops and bricks and mortar shops The Internet plays a key role in shaping the market 693 online shops identified in 2012 selling to EU
  10. 10. Lifetime use of 'legal highs' in the EU 15–24 year olds, percentage by country, n > 12000 In certain countries some new substances that imitate the effects of illicit drugs are being sold as legal substances in the form of - for example - powders, tablets/pills or herbs. Have you ever used such substances?
  11. 11. Mephedrone… Last year use in the United Kingdom 2010/11: Ages 16-24: 4.4% ~ cocaine, the second most used drug Ages 16-59: 1.4% ~ ecstasy, the third most used drug 2011/12: Ages 16-24: 3.3% ~ ecstasy, the third most used drug Ages 16-59: 1.1%
  12. 12. Do NPS have other uses? Examples… • Medicines: phenazepam, GHB, pregabalin, etizolam, carfentanil, ketamine • Intermediates for synthesis of API: mCPP, 2-AI, other? (both groups excluded from risk assessment and control at EU level) • Industrial chemicals: GBL, 1,4 BD • Scientific research & developmental, potential medicines?
  13. 13. Detecting and responding to harms EWS is an event-based monitoring system allowing early detection of signals of harm 4-MA and 5-IT: risk assessed in 2013 and subject to controls 25I-NBOMe: phenethylamine, often sold as LSD, large seizures of blotters, seizures of bulk powders (China) • Identified in 14 countries, 30+ non-fatal intoxications reported, some very serious AH-7921: synthetic opioid, sold as ‘research chemical’ • Identified in 6 countries, 10 deaths reported MDPV: synthetic cathinone, sold as ‘legal high’, ‘research chemical’, and on illicit drug market • Identified in 17 countries, large seizures, 40 deaths reported Methoxetamine: ketamine derivative, sold as ‘legal high’, ’research chemical’ and on illicit market as ketamine • Identified in 12 countries, 9 deaths reported
  14. 14. Knowledge gaps and areas that require strengthening • Toxicovigilance: acute emergencies, poisons centres, deaths • Better epidemiological data across the board • Better understanding of motives of use and models of diffusion potential and interplay with illicit drug market • Internet monitoring • Better detail on major production sites and seizures • Producer countries and trends in production • Availability and trends at global level
  15. 15. EMCDDA