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Vereinte Nationen verabschieden Erklärung zur Bekämpfung von Aids

New York – Die Vollversammlung der Vereinten Nationen hat nach schwierigen Verhandlungen eine politische Erklärung zur Bekämpfung der Immunschwächekrankheit Aids verabschiedet. (aerzteblatt.de, 09.06.2021)


How Switzerland defeated its heroin epidemic (Audio)

In the 1990s, Switzerland decided to tackle one of Europe's worst drugs epidemics by trying radical new policy ideas including providing safe-injection rooms for addicts and even prescribing pure heroin. The new strategy dramatically cut overdoses, HIV infections and the number of new users, and in 2008 the Swiss voted in a referendum to enshrine the changes permanently in law. Zak Brophy talks to Andre Seidenberg, a Swiss doctor who worked with addicts for decades, and to former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, who campaigned for the change in policy. (BBC, UK, Audio, 08:59)


EMCDDA. What are the lessons to be learnt from the European Drug Report 2021?

The new EU Drugs Strategy 2021–25 makes explicit that the European response to drugs should be evidence-based and delivered through a balanced and integrated approach, which ultimately must be judged on its impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is tasked with helping to provide the evidence needed to ensure that European policies and actions on drugs are effective, well-targeted and responsive to new threats and challenges. (EMCDDA, Lissabon 09.06.2021)


USA. We’re Overlooking a Major Culprit in the Opioid Crisis

Pharmaceutical companies and drug dealers have been part of the problem—but so have policy makers. (Scientific American, USA, 28.05.2021)


USA. Opinion: Politics and Science Are Both Catching up With Big Marijuana

As Congress readies a few doomed federal marijuana legalization bills, top Democrats in Colorado— the first state to legalize marijuana—are staking out a surprisingly different path. (Newsweek, USA, 02.06.2021)


EMCDDA. European Drug Report 2021

COVID-19: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected drug use and supply?
Drug use and harms: What drugs are causing the most concern today?
Drug production: What are the latest trends in drug production and trafficking?

Get the facts when the EMCDDA launches ist European Drug Report 2021 in a live online media event on 9 June.



Drug-related deaths have remained below the EU average since 2001

The proportion of prisoners sentenced for drugs has fallen from 40% to 15%

Rates of drug use have remained consistently below the EU average

(Transform, UK, 13.05.2021)


USA. Big pharma executives mocked ‘pillbillies’ in emails, West Virginia opioid trial hears

Executives at one of the US’s largest drug distributors circulated rhymes and emails mocking “hillbillies” who became addicted to opioid painkillers even as the company poured hundreds of millions of pills into parts of Appalachia at the heart of America’s opioid epidemic.


One email in 2011 included a rhyme built around “a poor mountaineer” named Jed who “barely kept his habit fed”. According to the verse, “Jed” travels to Florida to buy “Hillbilly Heroin”, the nickname for OxyContin, the drug manufactured by Purdue Pharma which kickstarted an epidemic that has claimed more than 500,000 lives. (Guardian, UK, 16.05.2021)


USA. What HBO’s “Crime of the Century” Doesn’t Tell You 
Lynn Webster, M.D., 15.05.2021


Addiction Should Be Treated, Not Penalized

Nora Volkow

Health Affairs Blog, April 27, 2021,


China. China issues total ban on synthetic cannabinoids

China on Tuesday said it will add all synthetic cannabinoids to its list of banned drugs, in what it described as a first in the world, to curb their manufacturing, trafficking and abuse. 

It is the second time that Chinese authorities have imposed a class-wide ban on a substance, after all fentanyl-related drugs were controlled in 2019. (MedicalXpress, USA. 11.05.2021)


USA. Opioid Crisis: Filmmaker Details The Medical System's 'Crime Of The Century'

The opioid crisis in the U.S. has never gone away.

Almost every year, more people die of opioid overdoses than in the year before. More than a half-million people have died from prescription painkillers, heroin and illicit fentanyl since 1999. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 66,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the U.S. in the 12 months to September 2020, a huge jump from the previous 12 months.

It's not just a crisis destroying communities and plunging countless people into addiction, but is also a crime, says documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney. His new documentary on HBO is called The Crime of the Century.

It's a crime, he says, that was committed by pharmaceutical companies, distributors, pharmacists and doctors, all looking to profit. (npr – National Public Radio, USA, 10.05.2021)


Kanada. Decriminalization Done Right: A Human Rights and Public Health Vision for Drug Policy Reform

As organizations and individuals committed to the liberation of people who use drugs, and progressive, rights-based drug policy reforms including decriminalization, we, the undersigned, call on the City of Vancouver to address three major concernsregarding its current application to the federal Health Minister to decriminalize simple drug possession locally. We also call on Health Canada and the federal Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, to refrain from imposing unnecessary and unjustified restrictions on any exemption issued to enable decriminalization in Vancouver or other municipalities or provinces that may follow suit, and we call on the Vancouver Police Departmentto stand down, vacate the process of decriminalization, and sign off on community-established thresholds.We support the City of Vancouver’s initiative as the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally pursue decriminalization of simple drug possession. We are also keenly aware that the process leading to, and the substantive outcome of, this policy change are likely to become a precedent for jurisdictions considering similar initiatives, such as British Columbia. It is essential, therefore, that the “Vancouver Model” of decriminalization proceeds correctly. This means taking the utmost care to consider the lived and living realities of people who use drugs and ensuring the approach adopted does not lead to more harm than good. 

(Amnesty International Canada, Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec (AIDQ), AVI Health and Community ServicesBC, Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, BC Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD), Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (National), Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy Vancouver, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, Each+Every, Harm Reduction Nurses Association, HIV Legal Network, Moms Stop the Harm, Pivot Legal Society, South Riverdale Community Health Centre (Toronto), Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, Mai 2021)


USA. 24 States Mount Legal Fight To Block Sackler Bid For Opioid Immunity

(…) A negotiated settlement could preempt years of costly litigation — the Sacklers deny any wrongdoing — and might accelerate financial aid to communities struggling to recover from an opioid epidemic that has already cost more than 450,000 lives.

But a growing group of public officials and activists is mounting a last-ditch effort to derail the plan, describing it in legal briefs as an unethical, and possibly unlawful, use of the bankruptcy court's power. (npr – National Public Radio, USA, 03.05.2021)


2021 Global Day of Action: Undoing the ‘war’, building the future that our communities have always deserved

50 years ago, the government of the United States launched a ‘war on drugs’ that would tragically define the decades to come.

The idea that the challenges posed by drugs could be addressed through an ‘all-out offensive’ spread like wildfire across the globe, primed by international agreements produced against the backdrop of political expediency and bigotry, rather than evidence and empathy.

The consequences have been devastating. Some of them can be counted in the millions who have been arrested, incarcerated, and lost prematurely to wholly preventable deaths. But most of the impacts, reflected in personal stories of pain, trauma, and exclusion, cannot be reduced to numbers.

Every year, on 26 June, the Support. Don’t Punish campaign mobilises in reaction to this violence and this loss, to build sustainable alternatives that end cycles of punishment and marginalisation, and rather advance our communities’ health, human rights and well-being. (supportdontpunish.org, 2021)


Drug control policies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia - The economic, health and social impact

The Economist Intelligence Unit, UK, März 2021


USA. Bringing Harm Reduction into Health Policy — Combating the Overdose Crisis

In the face of increasing drug-related morbidity and mortality, the Biden administration could signal a change in federal strategy by fully endorsing harm reduction as a valid, evidence-based policy to improve the health of people who use drugs.

Kimberly L. Sue, M.D., Ph.D., and David A. Fiellin, M.D.

NEJM, May 8, 2021, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2103274


WHO. Alkoholpolitik für die Europäische Region: neue Forschungserkenntnisse der WHO zeigen, dass Mitgliedstaaten im Osten der Region eine führende Rolle übernehmen

Region der WHO insgesamt einen Rückgang beim Alkoholkonsum verzeichnet, hängt dieser Trend doch nur mit den in einer geringen Anzahl an Ländern erzielten Fortschritten zusammen, die vorwiegend im östlichen Teil der Region liegen. Von einigen nennenswerten Ausnahmen abgesehen, haben die westeuropäischen Länder, einschließlich der Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union (EU), im Hinblick auf die Reduzierung des Alkoholkonsums nur geringe oder überhaupt keine Fortschritte erzielt.

Diese Dynamik wird in dem neuen Bericht von WHO/Europa „Die Europäische Region der WHO SICHERER machen. Entwicklungen bei Konzepten zur Eindämmung des Alkoholkonsums (2010–2019)“ hervorgehoben. Der Bericht beurteilt die neuesten Schritte, die in den Mitgliedstaaten zur allmählichen Umsetzung evidenzbasierter und wirksamer Maßnahmen zur Eindämmung des Alkoholkonsums ergriffen wurden. (WHO Europa, 15.04.2021)


Schweiz. Eine an die neuen Realitäten angepasste Drogenpolitik 

Bern. Die Drogenpolitik soll an die aktuelle Entwicklung des Drogenkonsums angepasst werden, der sich vermehrt auf Freizeitdrogen ausrichtet und vor allem die Jugendlichen betrifft. Dies geht aus einem vom Bundesrat verabschiedeten Bericht über die zukünftige Drogenpolitik hervor. (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, Schweiz, 28.04.2021)


USA. The Opioid Crisis in the United States – an animation by the Global Commission on Drug Policy

Today, Sir Richard Branson and members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy release an animation: The Opioid Crisis in the United States.

In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic (May 2019 to May 2020), more than 81,000 Americans died of a drug-related overdose. Most overdose deaths were reported between March and May 2020, highlighting the social and economic vulnerability of people who use drugs who face legal and financial hurdles to access treatment while facing criminal threats and social stigma.

In October 2017, the Global Commission published a position paper The Opioid Crisis in North America to provide its analysis and recommendations to mitigate the-then explosion of deaths related to synthetic drugs. Almost four years later, deaths related to fentanyl-type synthetic opioids and to stimulants (cocaine and methamphetamine) are on the rise, while harm reduction and treatment services remain limited and costly for people who need them. The repressive system against people who struggle with a medical condition continues to create a cascade of health, social, and economic consequences, such as the lucrative illegal market itself.

Solutions exist. The Global Commission calls urgently on the upscaling of 1) the availability of a large spectrum of treatment options that includes opioid agonist therapies such as methadone and buprenorphine maintenance; 2) non-divertible harm reduction services, such as syringe service programs, overdose reversal medicines, drug checking or supervised consumption centers; 3) decriminalization of drug use and possession to end stigma, fear and discrimination reinforced through the “war on drugs” against people who use drugs.

As the animation highlights, it is time to accept and implement long-lasting, sustainable and pragmatic responses to problematic drug use. (Global Commission on Drug Policy, Schweiz, 26.04.2021, Animation, 04:45)


Kanada. British Columbia officially requests decriminalization of drug possession

On the fifth anniversary of declaring B.C.’s public health emergency for overdose deaths, B.C. will officially request a federal exemption from Health Canada to decriminalize personal possession of drugs. (DATAC - Drug and Alcohol Testing Association of Canada, Kanada, 27.04.2021)


USA. Biden administration will allow nearly all providers to prescribe buprenorphine

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it would move forward with a dramatic deregulation of addiction medicine first proposed by the Trump administration in January.

The change would allow almost any prescriber to treat patients using the drug buprenorphine, the most effective medication for opioid addiction. Currently, doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners must undergo a separate training and apply for a waiver before they’re allowed to prescribe the drug to patients. (STAT, USA, 27.04.2021)


USA. ‘Ground zero of the opioid epidemic’: West Virginia puts drug giants on trial

A series of federal cases over the pharmaceutical industry’s push to sell narcotic painkillers which created the worst drug epidemic in US history. (The Guardian, UK, 03.05.2021)


Schottland. Scottish Drugs Forum Launch Manifesto

Scottish Drugs Forum has today published Drugs: Policy and Aims – A Manifesto for Scotland.

The manifesto describes problem drug use as being ‘neither a lifestyle choice nor a personal failing’.  It recommends that prevention of proble drug use involves addressing its origins and that there should therefore be more support to parents, families and vulnerable young people; improvement in health and other services’ engagement with people in need of support and in addressing Scotland’s social, income and health inequalities that result from poverty. (SDF – Scottish Drugs Forum, 22.04.2021)


A public health based vision for the management and regulation of opioids. 

Emerson B, Haden M. 

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Mar 27:103201. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103201. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33785246.


USA. Biden Administration Plan Tackles Drug Addiction Crisis

The Biden Administration revealed its first-year plan to address the nation’s addiction crisis, with 7 priorities highlighted and a focus on the inequality of treatment access. (Psychiatric Times, 01.04.2021)


USA. Pharmaunternehmen wegen Opioidkrise in den USA angeklagt

San Francisco – Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Endo und Allergan stehen wegen ihrer Mitverantwortung an der Opioidkrise in den USA vor Gericht. Drei kalifornische Bezirke und die Stadt Oakland forderten in ihrer gestern verlesenen Klage einen Schadensersatz in Milliardenhöhe von den Pharmaunternehmen. Ihnen wird vorgeworfen, die Risiken starker Opioidschmerzmittel aus Profitgier verharmlost zu haben. (aerzteblatt.de, 20.04.2021)


Report on good practices of synthetic opioid preparedness, and needs and challenges in EU Member States. 

Viskari, I; Tammi, T 

SO-PREP, 2021. ISBN: 978-952-343-017-4

SO-PREP is a project funded by the EU and composed of the following partners: Trimbos Institute (The Netherlands), Frankfurt University of Applied Science (FRA-UAS, Germany), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, Finland), The National Institute for Health Development (TAI, Estonia), University Ghent (Belgium) and Correlation-European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN, The Netherlands).


Report on EU Good Practices on generic health emergency preparedness protocols. 

Viskari, I; Tammi, T. 

SO-PREP, 2021. ISBN: 978-952-343-017-4

SO-PREP is a project funded by the EU and composed of the following partners: Trimbos Institute (The Netherlands), Frankfurt University of Applied Science (FRA-UAS, Germany), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, Finland), The National Institute for Health Development (TAI, Estonia), University Ghent (Belgium) and Correlation-European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN, The Netherlands).


Europa. How can EU countries be prepared and equipped for a continued rise in Synthetic Opioids (SO, Anm.) prevalence, use and incidents?

The SO-PREP project wants to contribute to

  • a better understanding of the current context around SO in Europe
  • better informed prepared and equipped national health systems to tackle SO in Europe
  • timely and adequate implementation of tailored responses to SO to mitigate related problems of dependence and (fatal and non-fatal) overdoses across Europe

TRIMBOS INSTITUUT, Niederlande, April 2021