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Emerging drugs in Europe

Papaseit, Esthera,b; Farré, Magía,b; Schifano, Fabrizioc; Torrens, Martab,d

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 243–250
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000071
ADDICTIVE DISORDERS: Edited by John B. Saunders and Linda B. Cottler

Purpose of review New psychoactive substances refer to emerging substances that have appeared on the market and are not under international control. NPS have been categorized in different main groups (e.g. synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, phenethylamines, piperazines, ketamine and phencyclidine-type substances, tryptamines). This article reviews the recent literature regarding emerging trends of NPS in Europe.

Recent findings According to the last report of the European Union Early warning system (EWS), 73 NPS were officially identified for the first time. The more frequent NPS self-reported or detected are synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones. A combination of different NPS and also mixed with other drugs, mainly cannabis and ecstasy, is usual among experienced drug users. Acute NPS toxicity includes significant psychoactive and sympathomimetic effects.

Summary This article summarizes new European epidemiological and clinical data published between January and December 2013 on NPS. In the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of NPS launched on the European drugs market. The presence of some of these new substances has been detected through surveys/questionnaires, studies in drug samples and biological fluids, and case reports and NPS-induced fatalities.

aHuman Pharmacology and Clinical Neurosciences Research Group, Neurosciences Research Programme. IMIM-Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute

bUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UDIMAS-UAB), Barcelona, Spain

cSchool of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK

dAddiction Programme, Institut de Neuropsiquiatria i Addicions – INAD, Hospital del Mar, Parc de Salut Mar, Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence to Professor Marta Torrens, MD, PhD, Addiction Programme, Hospital del Mar-INAD, Paseo Marítimo, 25-29, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +34932483175; fax: +34933160410; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins