Home » Side event: Innovative national approaches to address illicit synthetic drug threats

Side event: Innovative national approaches to address illicit synthetic drug threats

Organized by the Governments of Canada, Colombia and the United States of America.

US: Trafficking in synthetic drugs is the main challenge of our generation and the next. Compounds on issues we faced with traditional drugs. Recognize this as a complex international challenge. Many online drug transfers are transacted through virtual currencies. One synthetic drug is created every week. Synthetic drugs are also replacing conventional drugs, and users are often unaware. Dying from lethal combinations. How can we position ourselves to respond? We are an action oriented body at the CND. Dedicated to countering the world drug problem. Supported by experts from UN agencies. UNODC, INCB, and WHO developed the toolkit we are focusing on today. Includes successful legislative models. Online toolkit will serve as a self-assessment tool. Redouble our international efforts. Toolkit can advance that action.

UNODC: We have experienced several opioid crises as humanity, but none as devastating as the current. Hit North America with record deaths in the US and Canada. Crisis did not happen overnight. No magic solutions. UNODC has stepped up support to confront these challenges. Launched the UNODC integrated strategy on the opioid crisis. Toolkit is part of this strategy. Seeks to support responses to synthetic drugs. Will be updated and complemented with other resources. In developing this, decided it would be practical to have a toolkit that is in your pocket via smartphone capability. [Demo of tool on mobile and computer devices.]

Canada: Legislative, regulatory, and policy changes that Canada has taken to respond to the opioid crisis in Canada. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are flooding the international market. Health risks of synthetic fentanyl and analogues are understood too well in Canada. Risk posed by these drugs affect us all. UN drug conventions provide overarching framework. Ability to keep pace with substances poses a challenge for law enforcement, policymakers, and regulators. Gaps in international controls are amplified when a crisis hits. Eleven Canadian lives lost everyday. Inappropriate opioid prescribing, and the poisoning of the illegal drug supply more importantly, are the causes. Increased incidence of traffickers tweaking molecular structure to traffic so-called legal highs is a challenge for us all. Close the gaps to prevent these substances from hitting drug markets. Four pillars are prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement. Implement an action plan to better inform about risk of opioids, better prescribing practices, better evidence on which we base policy decisions, etc. National clinical practice guidelines on opioid prescribing. Increase treatment, such as by reducing barriers to pharmaceutical grade heroin as a treatment option. From harm reduction perspective, increased availability of naloxone, reduced barrier to supervised consumption services, and removed disincentives to call emergency services in an overdose situation. Enforcement have strengthened interdiction efforts, including at borders, and implemented a chemical tracking program. Expanded the listing of precursors and pre-precursors. Legislative amendments on equipment used in synthetic drug production, such as pill presses. Minister of Health now has authority to add a new substance to a schedule, allows for quick scheduling. No one solution to this problem. Recently launched a challenge to improve drug checking technology. Hope is that we can further improve access to drug checking services. Recently completed a national consultation on our drug strategy.

Colombia: Synthetic drugs consumed but not produced in Colombia. Diversification of synthetic drugs market. Precursors are tightly controlled. Continuous training and capacity building at local and regional levels. Study from 2016 revealed that many drugs sold as traditional drugs were actually new psychoactive substances. No illicit fentanyl or precursors have been found yet. National plan of action for heroin use has been implemented. Includes provision of substitution treatment and harm reduction measures. Plan has been expanded to include surveillance on opioid indicators. Balanced with measures to promote access to controlled medicines for pain. Recent strategies include implementation of new national policies, interaction with local authorities responsible for distribution and control of opioid medicines, technical information related to controlled substances, and academic activities.

China: No significant consumption and overdose incidence from synthetic substances in China. However, manufacturing and production does exist stimulated by the demand from foreign markets. Substances synthesized are not normally scheduled in China. Communications are mainly going through the internet. Have two updated legislative documents. 170 new psychoactive substances and 25 fentanyl substances been controlled so far. Latter goes beyond those scheduled internationally. Fentanyl substances to be scheduled as a class in China and will be finalized soon. Have a monitoring program on new psychoactive substances. Of those identified, 82% were uncontrolled. Recommendations to strengthen international cooperation.

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