National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Substance use in the past 12 months: Lexington, KY survey dates: June 24-26, 2022

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Rapid Street Reporting (RSR) team visited Lexington, KY on June 24-26, 2022. The RSR team conducted surveys (N=227) in public spaces, including parks, nightlife, town squares, sidewalks, malls, and libraries. In 2021, the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center reported a total of 2,251 fatal drug overdose-deaths among Kentucky residents. Among these, 79.6% involved at least one opioid, while 51% involved at least one stimulant. Since 2020, the number of overdose deaths from opioids increased by 12% and 38.8% for stimulants. Fentanyl was involved in 69% of all drug overdose deaths. View the full report here.

Alert from the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Online mentions of etomethazene

What was found? A second wave of discussion for the novel substance etomethazene has grown on Reddit in July/August 2022.

To what does etomethazene refer? Etomethazene is a novel opioid substance discussed on Reddit and listed for purchase online. It is a derivative of benzimidazole opioid nitazenes (etonitazene, metonitazene, etc.) previously mentioned on Reddit.

How is it being discussed? Commenters refer to etomethazene as a "zene" drug. While rumors of etomethazene's potency vary, commenters claim the drug is moderately more potent than fentanyl.

Drug Terms: Etomethazene, "zenes", nitazenes.


Legal review of state emergency medical services policies and protocols for naloxone administration

A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence provided data on the authority to administer naloxone at different emergency medical services licensure levels and found that 39 states with an emergency medical responder licensure level and statewide protocol authorized naloxone. This is up from only 2 in 2013. When specified, maximum doses authorized ranged widely, from 2.0 to 12.0 milligrams. Read the full study here.

Trends in buprenorphine treatment disparities during the COVID pandemic in Massachusetts

A recently published study evaluated trends in buprenorphine treatment disparities before and after the onset of the COVID pandemic in Massachusetts. Among 4,530 patients seen in the period before the COVID emergency declaration, 57.9% received buprenorphine. Among 3,653 patients seen in the second time period, 55.1% received buprenorphine. Racial disparities emerged in the time period following the COVID pandemic, with non-Hispanic Black patients having a lower likelihood of receiving buprenorphine compared to non-Hispanic White patients in the second time period. Younger patients had a lower likelihood of receiving buprenorphine in both time periods. Male patients had a greater likelihood of receiving buprenorphine compared to female patients in both time periods. Read the full study here.


States look to regulate weed alternatives like delta-8 as sales explode

As delta-8 sales rapidly increase even in places where marijuana remains illegal, states are beginning to look for guidance on federal regulations. Many researchers have found problems with delta-8 products ranging from irregular dosing to containing heavy metals. Consequently, poison control centers have seen an increase in calls related to detla-8. State lawmakers in Colorado and Oregon have already begun to ban delta-8 products and states like Texas, Kentucky, and Kansas are now facing lawsuits from the hemp industry over their newly imposed restrictions. In response to some of the gray area related to delta-8 and delta-10 products, a bill was introduced last week to decriminalize marijuana as well as regulate products with other types of THC. Read the full article here.

Teva reaches $4.25 billion settlement over alleged role in opioid crisis

Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay up to $4.25 billion in a nationwide settlement over its alleged role in the opioid crisis. The settlement includes supplying up to $1.2 billion in naloxone to several state and local governments as well as $100 million to Native American Tribes. The money will be paid out over 13 years. Read the full article here

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