National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Drug overdose deaths before and after shelter-in-place orders during COVID-19 in San Francisco

A new study published in JAMA examined unintentional fatal overdose deaths in San Francisco. One of the authors is NDEWS Sentinel Site Director Dr. Phillip Coffin. Using data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, researchers looked at the 8.5 calendar months before and after the shelter-in-place order beginning March 17, 2020. Read the full study here.  

Naloxone administrations by EMS during COVID-19

A study published in JMI Public Health and Surveillance documented the use of naloxone during emergency medical services (EMS) visits. Using data from a county in North Carolina, the study found that administrations of naloxone increased during COVID-19. Read the full study here.


A review on people who use GHB

The International Journal of Drug Policy published a literature review focusing on gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). The researchers found that most people who use GHB transitioned to GHB from other recreational drugs and that sampling and further longitudinal studies would provide more insight. Read the full review here.

Illegal drug market responses to state recreational cannabis laws 

A recent report in Addiction examined changes in the illegal drug market following the legalization of recreational marijuana in 15 US states and the District of Columbia. The report found that the market responded by dropping the street price of cannabis. Read the full report here.

Drug-related deaths and mortality in Europe

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued an update on drug overdose deaths in the European Union. Public health responses to reduce drug overdose death rates in Europe have included take-home naloxone programs and drug consumption rooms. Read the full report here.

The use of kratom among people who co-use heroin and methamphetamine

A study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine examined the use of kratom among adults who had a history of heroin and methamphetamine use in Malaysia. Researchers concluded that there is ​the potential for kratom to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and warrants further research. Read the full study here.



Recommended scope for NPS testing

NPS Discovery and the SOFT Designer Drugs Committee issued recommendations for NPS testing. The report is the first for this collaboration and is based on information from 2021 Q1. The report breaks down three recommended tiers for scope in NPS testing. Read the full report here.


“Ultra potent” opioids circulate in Toronto

Toronto’s drug checking service issued an alert regarding three “ultra potent” opioids in the unregulated drug supply. Carfentanil, etonitazene, and isotonitazene have been found in purported fentanyl samples checked by the service. Read the full alert here.


A reader from Oregon is looking for more information on a new drug called “dirty 30,” a combination of fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. The reader relays that it has required multiple naloxone administrations. If you have more information please submit it to NDEWS here.


Please join this month's University of Minnesota Duluth Global Health Research Institute / African and Middle East Congress on Addiction webinar titled: A global perspective on stimulant use and abuse: updates on clinical and capacity challenges.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. GMT, Register here.

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