“New Drugs” Launched onto the World Market

The annual report released by INCB points out the growing emergence of new psychoactive substances especially engineered to elude international and domestic drug laws

“(New psychoactive substances) are often presented as “legal” or “natural” alternatives to controlled substances, leading to the misconception that the fact that they are not controlled under the international drug control conventions makes them safe” said the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) an independent expert body linked to the United Nations in its annual report released last week.

Since the publication of its annual report for 2010, the INCB has been warning the international community about the growing problem posed by trafficking in and abuse of new psychoactive substances. These new drugs are substances of abuse not subject to international control and that pose a potential risk for public health. They can derive from natural or synthetic substances and are usually chemically engineered to elude existing international and national drug control measures.

"The growing emergence in recent years of non-controlled new psychoactive substances has become a major public health threat and a truly global phenomenon" INCB

The INCB deems it impossible to estimate accurately the number of new psychoactive substances on the market. However, according to the UN Office on Drugs and  Crime (UNODC), the number of NPS in use more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, surpassing the number of drugs under international control. In addition, the difficulty of identifying those substances in a timely manner poses a serious challenge to Governments, given the rapid emergence of such substances on the market and their changeable chemical composition.

The INCB signals that the United States, an important market for new psychoactive substances, have announced the outcomes of an ongoing special operation which resulted in “the arrest of 150 persons and the seizure of hundreds of thousands or retail packages” through the so-called Substance Analogue Enforcement Act which allowed many of these substances to be treated as controlled substances if they were proven to be chemically or pharmacologically similar to the latter. 

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