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| Hans-Günter Meyer-Thompson | National

Synthetic opioids in Germany - Are we prepared? Proposals for a national council

Synthetic opioids in Germany - Are we prepared? Proposals for a national council

Two annual opium harvests in Afghanistan have largely failed. According to current news, the stocks of opium and heroin in the country itself and in the warehouses of the retail chains will last until at least the end of 2024, at which point heroin exports to Europe could gradually dry up. The price per kilo for opium is already rising steadily in Afghanistan, which will have an impact on the European heroin market sooner or later. Replacement supplies from Myanmar are unlikely. Mexican and Guatemalan poppy farmers have largely stopped growing poppies because they could not compete with the cheaper fentanyl. The Chinese government does not seem seriously willing to stop the export of chemical precursors for the production of fentanyls.

The economics of the illegal drug market will provide substitutes; the demand for opioids is there. Drug cartels could fill this gap in the market with fentanyls, nitazenes and xylazine. This could lead to a situation in Germany and other countries that is very similar to that in North America: a rapid increase in overdoses with fatal consequences, distribution battles between old and new drug cartels, overloading of the healthcare system and drug aid, an increase in drug-related crime and social impoverishment of users.

The key actions arising from the experience in North America and other countries where synthetic opioids (SO) play or have played a role are incorporated in the publication SO-PREP - Toolkit on key responses to the negative consequences related to synthetic opioidsüreA4SO-PREPInternetfassung.pdf

of 2023, which resulted in seven key strategies:

+ Early warning systems

+ Internet monitoring 

+ e-Health

+ Drug checking

+ Drug consumption rooms

+ Naloxone

+ Opioid agonist therapy

This outline is intended to provide an overview along the SO-Prep toolkit and the four pillars of drug policy of the measures that could contribute to a concept in the sense of a national emergency plan. It also contains various components of a comprehensive early warning system and supplementary proposals. 

Synthetic opioids in Germany - Are we prepared?