National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing



New psychoactive substances (NPS) in Taiwan: the current situation and initiative for rational scheduling 

NDEWS Investigator Dr. Linda Cottler and research team published a study in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. They examined the scheduling criteria of Taiwan’s Statute for the Prevention and Control of Illicit Drugs (SPCID). Using 11 indicators from four dimensions of drug related harms- addiction, misuse, social harm and physical harm, researchers profiled 37 NPS. The study provides a mechanism to scrutinize, and improve, the current evaluation process for NPS scheduling. Read the study here.


Prevalence of substance use disorders (SUDs) by time since first substance use among young people in the US

A research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics online this week examined the age of first substance use with later SUD. Researchers looked at prevalence of specific SUDs since first drug use (including tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin) or prescription misuse (including opioids, stimulants, and tranquilizers) in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and young adults aged 18 to 25 years. Read the study here.

Sex differences in US emergency department non-fatal visits for benzodiazepine (BZD) poisonings in adolescents and young adults

A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence this week examined trends in mortality and BZD poisonings. There were approximately 38,000 BZD poisoning ED visits by young people (age 12-29) nationwide in 2016. Researchers found that half of all BZD poisonings in females and a third in males were intentional. Read the full study here.


NPS Discovery identifies novel opioid Flunitazene in the United States

NPS Discovery issued an alert regarding three identifications of Flunitazene in the US this week. Flunitazene, which is classified as a novel opioid, is structurally dissimilar to fentanyl. Read the full alert here.


The Biden-Harris Administration’s statement of drug policy priorities for year one

Yesterday, the Biden-Harris Administration released a statement regarding their priorities for drug policy this year. Priorities include expanding access to evidence-based treatment; advancing racial equity issues in our approach to drug policy; enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts; supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use; reducing the supply of illicit substances; advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and expanding access to recovery support services. Read the full statement here.

FDA issues alert on import of Kratom

The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert this week regarding Kratom. The FDA has seen an increase in shipments containing Kratom. The alert allows for detention without physical examination of any dietary ingredients that contain Kratom or mitragyna speciosa. Read the alert here.

Schedules of controlled substances: placement of 5 synthetic cannabinoid substances in Schedule I

The DEA has extended a temporary order regarding the placement of 5F-EDMB-PINACA, 5F-MDMB-PICA, FUB-AKB48, 5F-CUMYL-PINACA and FUB-144 in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), effective April 16, 2021, until April 16, 2022. Read the temporary order published in the Federal Register here.

Drug-testing center opens on heels of deadliest February in British Columbia (B.C.)'s opioid crisis 

A news story from B.C. highlighted a new drug testing center after 11 consecutive months of 100 or more drug overdose deaths. The Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project uses test strips to anonymously test a range of drugs from opioids to methamphetamine. Carfentanil, a more lethal analogue of fentanyl, was detected in 18 of the 155 deaths in February. Read the full article in The Times Colonist here.


Marilyn Mosby declares war on drugs over, formalizes policy to dismiss all possession charges in Baltimore 

This week, Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she will make permanent her policy to dismiss all criminal charges for the possession of drugs. Mosby’s team began dismissing these cases a year ago citing COVID-19. Since then, rates of violent crime are down by 20-30%. Mosby cites this data in continuing the policy permanently. Read the article in The Baltimore Sun here.

Deaths of despair have surged among people of color new data shows another disaster unfolding alongside the pandemic 

Journalists from New York Magazine analyzed nine large counties in the US and found suicide rates increased among people of color from 2019 to 2020: up around 17 percent among Black people, 14 percent among Latinos, and 9 percent among individuals of Asian descent. Drug and alcohol related overdoses jumped upward by 50 percent in these same counties between 2019 and 2020. People of color made up 51 percent of overdose deaths in 2020, up from 48 percent in 2019. Read the full article here.

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