National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


DEA issues public safety alert on sharp increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a public safety alert this week due to the increase in availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. This public warning comes as the number of DEA-confiscated pills with fentanyl have risen 430% since 2019, with more than 9.5 million adulterated pills seized in 2021. The alert notes that methamphetamine is increasingly being pressed into counterfeit pills as well. Read the full public safety alert here.


NPS Discovery releases Quarter 3 Drug Supply Assessment for Philadelphia, PA

NPS Discovery recently published an update regarding the drug supply in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for Quarter 3 of 2021. As part of a collaboration between the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, 98 drug samples were obtained within the city between April and August 2021 and tested. Of the 74 samples purported to be heroin, most contained fentanyl cut with xylazine, though heroin was identified in the supply without fentanyl. Additional findings included increasing prevalence of para-fluorofentanyl in opioid samples and NPS benzodiazepines detected in counterfeit “Xanax” samples. Read the full report here. 


E-cigarette use among middle and high school students: Data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey

In a study published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), authors from the CDC and FDA analyzed nationally representative data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which assessed current e-cigarette use among US middle school and high school students. Results showed that in 2021, 11.3% of high school students (1.72 million) and 2.8% of middle school students (320,000) reported currently using e-cigarettes, with 84.7% reporting the use of flavored e-cigarettes. Read the full study here and the FDA press announcement here.

Population-based estimates of geographic accessibility of medication for opioid use disorder by substance use disorder treatment facilities from 2014 to 2020

In a recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, authors used data from the National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs to examine the national and county-level proportion of treatment facilities that offered medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD). From 2014 to 2020, they found that the share of counties with a treatment facility offering any MOUD as a form of treatment rose from 30% to 45%, and the share of counties with facilities offering all three forms of MOUD (methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone) increased from 4% to 9%. Read the full study here.


The early impact of COVID-19 on the incidence, prevalence, and severity of alcohol use and other drugs: a systematic review

A recent systematic review published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence examined the early impact (prior to March 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health measures on the incidence and prevalence of alcohol and other drug use. The authors identified 53 papers describing changes in substance use at the population-level, most of which described changes related to alcohol use. Overall, preliminary data showed that certain populations increased their alcohol use early on during the COVID-19 pandemic; there was less evidence to support changes in non-alcohol substance use. Read the full study here.

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