National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


NDEWS Hotspot Alerts November 24–30, 2022: Opioid, heroin, methamphetamine, and non-opioid 911 dispatches

This week's NDEWS Hotspot Alert​s ​report ​includes 27 counties with higher-than-expected drug-related 911 dispatch counts over the previous 7-day period. View the full report hereClick here to read more about NDEWS Hotspot Alerts.

Alert from the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Online mentions of M30

Context: This alert follows NDEWS Briefing Issue 85 (May 2022, indicated by the dotted line above), which identified coinciding trends in online mentions and NDEWS Rapid Street Reporting data for M30/Blues.

What was found? Subreddit mention counts for M30 and related drug terms ("M-30", "Blue 30") have increased from May through November 2022. The highest first-mention count of M30 by unique commenters occurred in November 2022.

What are M30s? M30 refers to blue, 30mg oxycodone pills pressed with the M30 imprint. Currently, the term predominantly refers to counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, as alerted by the DEA in 2021.

How are M30s being discussed? M30 is frequently co-mentioned with fentanyl on Reddit. Commenters discuss safety concerns surrounding counterfeit M30 pills.

Drug Terms: M30, M-30, Blue 30, Blues, Fentanyl.


NPS Discovery: Drug Checking Quarterly Report (Q3 2022): Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Last week, NPS Discovery released their Drug Checking Quarterly Report (Q3 2022) for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Between May and September 2022, 219 samples were tested. Most samples purported to be "dope" (91%) contained fentanyl and xylazine. Read the report here.


DEA TOX 3rd Quarter 2022 Report

Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Toxicology Testing Program (DEA TOX) published a Quarter 3 2022 report summarizing findings from July 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022. One hundred biological samples and one drug product from 97 cases originating from 10 states were submitted and analyzed. Read the report here.

Death rates for drug overdose among persons aged 25–44 years, by race and ethnicity— US, 2000–2020

A recently published MMWR report examined data on drug overdose mortality rates in the US from 2000 to 2020. As of 2020, non-Hispanic White persons had the highest drug overdose mortality rate when compared to non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic persons. The largest increase seen during the 20-year period occurred from 2019 to 2020, where each group had greater than a 25% increase in drug overdose mortality rates. Read the report here.

Impacts of the New York State COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Orders on prescription dispensing for opioids and medication for opioid use disorder

A recently published study in Addiction examined whether the March 2020 New York State COVID-19 Emergency Orders were associated with an initial surge in opioid dispensing and a longer-term reduction in access to medications for opioid use disorder. Results showed that from March 21, 2020, to April 17, 2020, there was a 17.07% decrease in the amount of morphine milligram equivalents dispensed compared to the prior month. While the Emergency Orders did appear to reduce the dispensing of opioids, the study did not observe a similar decrease in the dispensing of opioids used for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Read the study here. 

Understanding motivations and use typologies of gabapentin with opioid agonist medications

A recently published study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, led by NDEWS Scientific Advisory Group member Dr. Matthew Ellis, explored the use of gabapentin in participants from an opioid surveillance program. Results showed that 60% of participants reported medical or nonmedical use of gabapentin, and 22% reported both medical and nonmedical use. Of this group, 38.8% participants also reported being exposed to gabapentin through a prescription from their opioid use disorder treatment program. Read the study here.


The Director of NIDA calls for broad deregulation of methadone

The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, recently called for broader deregulation of methadone during a STAT Summit earlier this month. Currently, methadone can only be prescribed at specialized methadone clinics, and patients are often required to show up to the clinics every morning to receive a single methadone dose. Read the article here.

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