National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing

IN THE NEWS

Production issues cause nationwide naloxone shortage

According to recent news, production issues with Pfizer's injectable version of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, have caused a shortage of the drug, affecting providers across the US. Pfizer does not expect to ship any more of the injectable naloxone until the fall, and the company "may not be back to uninterrupted levels until February 2022." An article published in Filter describes this supply disruption as the worst naloxone shortage since 2012. Read more in Filter and in the Boston Globe.

Have you been affected by the naloxone shortage? Let us know here.

RECENTLY PUBLISHED

CDC releases new provisional drug overdose death counts for the United States through January 2021

On Wednesday, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released new provisional drug overdose death counts for the US through January 2021. Based on data available for analysis on August 1, 2021, there were 94,134 reported drug overdose deaths in the 12-month ending period of January 2021––a 30.9% increase from the previous year. Read more on the NCHS's website, which includes interactive dashboards, data tables, and technical notes.

Fentanyl crisis hits the US West Coast: Opioid-related deaths in San Francisco from 2009–2019

A new retrospective cohort study published in International Journal of Drug Policy analyzed medico-legal death and toxicological data from 2009 to 2019 and found an upward trend in fentanyl fatal accidental overdoses in San Francisco. White and Black males made up a large majority of accidental opioid overdose deaths, and age groups younger than 45 died using fentanyl and heroin more often than older age groups. This pattern of upward trend in fentanyl fatal accidental overdoses is consistent with patterns seen in eastern states, though with an approximate 3-year delay. Read the full study here.

NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES (NPS)

DEA TOX releases Quarter 2 report for 2021

The Drug Enforcement Administration's Toxicology Testing Program (DEA TOX) released their quarterly report for Quarter 2 of 2021 this week. DEA TOX began in May 2019 as a surveillance program for detecting new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the US. From April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021, DEA TOX received biological samples from 130 cases in 15 states. A total of 646 drugs and metabolites were identified and confirmed, including 70 detections of 32 different NPS, comprising eight drug classes. NPS opioids were the most frequently identified and encountered. Read the full report here.

Analysis of Google Trends to monitor new psychoactive substances

A recent study examined the use of Google Trends and one drug discussion forum (Drugs-Forum) as data sources to complement early warning systems in monitoring and predicting the emergence of NPS. When comparing the order of appearance and duration of presence of 48 different NPS from 2004 to 2019, researchers found that NPS were most likely to appear in Google Trends before their first appearance on Drugs-Forum and their first reported date to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), suggesting that Google Trends could be used as a complement to current early warning systems. Read the full study here.

COVID-19 AND DRUG-RELATED TRENDS

Cannabis sales increase during COVID-19: Findings from Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington

A recent study published in International Journal of Drug Policy analyzed trends in cannabis sales (medical and nonmedical adult use) from marketplaces in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington from January 2018 through December 2020. Researchers found that mean monthly cannabis sales were higher during the COVID-19 pandemic period in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 for all four states, coinciding with stay-at-home orders. Cannabis sales also reached a three-year peak in all four states between May and June 2020. Read the full study here.

Changes in drinking days among United States adults during the COVID-19 pandemic

In a study recently published in Addiction, researchers examined changes in alcohol use across a 7-day period among US adults in a critical period during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March to mid-July of 2020, data on reported drinking days were collected from a longitudinal internet-based panel survey. Results demonstrated significant increases in the number of drinking days per week for all months as compared to March 2020. Sustained increases were observed for male participants, White participants, and older adults. Read the full study here

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