National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


NPS Discovery: Announcement of newly identified psychoactive substance N-cyclohexyl methylone in the US

On May 9th, NPS Discovery announced the identification of a novel psychoactive substance, N-cyclohexyl methylone. The new substance is classified as a novel stimulant and substituted cathinone. Read about its structure, its appearance and its scheduling, among other details, here.

NPS Discovery and the SOFT NPS Committee: Q1 2022 Scope Recommendations

NPS Discovery and the SOFT NPS Committee released their Q1 2022 Scope Recommendations this week. These recommendations provide guidance for laboratories testing for novel psychoactive substances. Read the full report here.


Naloxone's dose-dependent displacement of carfentanil and duration of receptor occupancy in rat brain

A study published in Nature Scientific Reports from researchers at NIAAA, NIMH and NIDA assessed naloxone's dose-dependence on both its rate of displacement of carfentanil binding and its duration of mu opioid receptor occupancy in the male rat brain. Read the study here. 

Insights from biosurveillance: non-fatal opioid overdoses in Rhode Island 20192021

Urine specimens from 1,354 unique non-fatal overdoses from 10 Rhode Island hospitals from July 2019 to June 2021 were tested. Results, published in Addiction, showed fentanyl and or norfentanyl were present in 79% of all samples in which opioids were found. Fentanyl analogs were present in up to 35% of all opioid-containing samples. Read the full study here.


Ohio State University warns of fake Adderall pills after two students die 

On May 6th, a report was published stating two Ohio State University students died from apparent drug overdoses after taking fake Adderall pills. Columbus Fire Medics responded to the scene on May 4th, where they transported two people to the hospital in critical condition: one 27-year-old female and a 20-year-old of unspecified gender. Both have since died. Following the incident, Columbus Public Health issues an alert about fake Adderall pills, which appear to contain fentanyl. Read the news article here.

Walgreens reaches $683 million settlement with the state of Florida for improperly dispensing of opioids

On May 5th, the Walgreens pharmacy chain reached a $683 million settlement with Florida for accusations of improperly dispensing billions of painkillers that contributed to the opioid crisis. Walgreens was the 12th and final defendant to settle with Florida, which will bring more than $3 billion for the state to tackle opioid addiction overdoses. The Florida case accused Walgreens of dispensing more than 4.3 billion opioid pills in Florida from May 2006 to June 2021. Read the full article here.

Overdose deaths continue to rise, with fentanyl and methamphetamine key culprits

An article published in the New York Times on May 11th detailed the continuing rise of overdose deaths due to fentanyl and methamphetamine. Deaths involving synthetic opioids — largely fentanyl — rose to 71,000 from 58,000, while those associated with stimulants like methamphetamine increased to 33,000 from 25,000. Deaths from both classes of drugs have been rising in recent years; there is also growing evidence that stimulants and opioids are more commonly used together. Dr. Dan Ciccarone, NDEWS Scientific Advisory Group member, and professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said "There's an intertwined synthetics epidemic the likes of which we've never seen." He also said: "We've never seen a powerful opioid such as fentanyl being mixed with such a potent methamphetamine." Read the full article here.

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