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New Psychoactive Substances: A Guide for Pharmacists

A. Guirguis1, C. Bond2, G. Hawksworth2 , J. Lawrence2  and L. Martini2

1Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire, UK.

2Science and Research Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, UK.


USA/Deutschland. Data-Sharing Website May Speed Response to New Illegal Drugs - The ‘NPS Data Hub’ will help forensic chemists identify new types of fentanyl and other narcotics more quickly.

The drug overdose epidemic currently gripping the nation is so tenacious in part because it’s being driven by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that comes in many forms. Each form has a slightly different chemical structure, and clandestine chemists are constantly cooking up new ones. From a law-enforcement perspective, this makes fentanyl a moving target and very difficult to control.

To help with this situation, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the German Federal Criminal Police Office (the Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency have launched a website where forensic chemists can share data on new drug variants, also called drug analogs. Described in Forensic Chemistry, the NPS Data Hub (NPS stands for Novel Psychoactive Substances) includes the chemical structures of drug analogs and their chemical signatures, which are the keys to identifying them in the lab. (National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA, 05.07.2018)


The Dynamic Environment of Crypto Markets: The Lifespan of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and Vendors Selling NPS.

Wadsworth E, Drummond C, Deluca P.

Brain Sci. 2018 Mar 16;8(3). pii: E46. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8030046.


Mind your Trip

Neue psychoaktive Substanzen (NPS) sind weitestgehend unerforscht. Über Wirkungen und vor allem (langfristige) Nebenwirkungen ist nur sehr wenig bis gar nichts bekannt. Viele dieser Rauschmittel sind für den Eigengebrauch legal. Sie sind aber nicht ungefährlich! Mind Your Trip hilft dir, deinen NPS-Konsum zu überprüfen. Gemeinsam mit Fachleuten bieten wir unterschiedliche Möglichkeiten an, um deinen Konsum dieser Substanzen zu kontrollieren. (mindyourtrip.eu, 2018)


New psychoactive substances in substantive evidence in expert practice of the Department of Forensic Medicine, UJCM in the years 2010-2015.

Maciów-Głąb M, Kula K, Kłys M, Rojek SD.

Arch Med Sadowej Kryminol. 2017;67(3):178-200. doi: 10.5114/amsik.2017.71449.


Click for Support - REALized: European Web-based intervention for NPS consumers


From 2014-2015 the EU project “Click for Support” was realised by the European prevention network “euro net” and was co-funded by the EU.

The objective of the project "Click for Support" was to develop guidelines for developing and implementing online selective drug prevention. Therefore the European knowledge and experience with web-based interventions was collected and assessed in 13 European countries. A second objective was to raise awareness on the importance of web-based techniques in the daily work of prevention workers. 

After thorough national researches on web-based interventions and the assessment through certain quality criteria and together with young drug consumers the results were summarized.

Three best-practice examples were chosen and presented at the Interim conference. Afterwards a first draft of the guidelines was developed. After gaining feedback from all project partners and other prevention experts through two Delphi rounds the guidelines were adjusted accordingly.

The guidelines were presented at the final conference in Münster in 2015 and the national conferences in all partner countries. The dissemination of the guidelines should continue beyond the end of the project. A first update of the guideline is scheduled for 2018.


Addressing Hazards from Unscheduled Novel Psychoactive Substances as Research Chemicals: The Case of U-50488.

Amin ZM, Rambaran KA, Fleming SW, Cho K, Chacko L, Alzghari SK.

Cureus. 2017 Dec 6;9(12):e1914. doi: 10.7759/cureus.1914.


Mind Your Trip: web-based intervention programme for young consumers of New Psychoactive Substances - Training Manual for online counsellors

This manual for online counsellors was developed between July 2017 and April 2018 for the prevention experts involved in the EU-project ‘Click for Support - REALized’ (2017-2018), which has been co-funded by the European Commission under the 2015 Annual Work Programme ‘The Internal Security Fund – Police & the Drugs Policy Initiative’. (April 2018)


UNODC Early Warning Advisory (EWA) on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

The EWA provides access to basic information on new psychoactive substances. Specific information on NPS including trend data, chemical details on individual substances, supporting documentation on laboratory analysis and legislative responses can be accessed by registered users only. (UNODC)


EMCDDA. New psychoactive substances in prison (Video)

The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) among prisoners appears to be a rapidly developing phenomenon. But empirical data are currently scarce and patchy. A recent study suggests that synthetic cannabinoids are the most common group of NPS used in prison. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, 07.06.2018, Video, 01:37)


Mindzone: Alles über Neue Drogen

Dieses Internetportal ist ein Informations- und Beratungsangebot vom Landes-Caritasverband Bayern e.V. und informiert über die Wirkungen und Risiken von Neuen psychoaktiven Substanzen (NpS). Es bietet Interessierten und Ratsuchenden aktuelle und fundierte Substanzinformationen sowie die Möglichkeit, auf unkomplizierte Weise professionelle Beratung in Anspruch zu nehmen.

Für Konsumenten, Eltern und Fachkräfte.


EMCDDA. New psychoactive substances in prison 

Rapid Communication, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018


Characteristics of NPS use in patients admitted to acute psychiatric services in Southeast Scotland: a retrospective cross-sectional analysis following public health interventions.

Bennett KH, Hare HM, Waller RM, Alderson HL, Lawrie S.

BMJ Open. 2017 Dec 3;7(12):e015716. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015716.


Candyflipping and Other Combinations: Identifying Drug-Drug Combinations from an Online Forum.

Chary M, Yi D, Manini AF.

Front Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 30;9:135. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00135.


The users of Novel Psychoactive Substances: Online survey about their characteristics, attitudes and motivations.

Soussan C, Kjellgren A.

Int J Drug Policy. 2016 Jun;32:77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.03.007.


Concomitant drug abuse of opioid dependent patients in maintenance treatment detected with a multi-target screening of oral fluid.

Wagner E, Raabe F, Martin G, Winter C, Plörer D, Krause DL, Adorjan K, Koller G, Pogarell O.

Am J Addict. 2018 May 24. doi: 10.1111/ajad.12737.



The diverse reasons for using Novel Psychoactive Substances - A qualitative study of the users' own perspectives

Soussan, Christophe et al.

International Journal of Drug Policy , Volume 52 , 71 - 78


EMCDDA. Report on the risk assessment of N-(1-Amino-3,3-dimethyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (ADB-CHMINACA) in the framework of the Council Decision on new psychoactive substances 

(EMCDDA,Lissabon,Mai 2018)


Synthetische Drogen - Wichtige und neue Substanzen im Überblick

Dr. med. Felix Betzler, Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Andreas Heinz, PD Dr. med. Stephan Köhler

Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin

HIVreport.de, 1/2017


Europa. Report on the risk assessment of 1-(4-Cyanobutyl)-N-(2-phenylpropan-2-yl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (CUMYL-4CN-BINACA) in the framework of the Council Decision on new psychoactive substances 

(EMCDDA,Lissabon,Mai 2018)


Self-reported use of novel psychoactive substances among attendees of electronic dance music venues.

Palamar JJ, Acosta P, Sherman S, Ompad DC, Cleland CM.

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016 Nov;42(6):624-632.


Health and Social Problems Associated with Recent Novel Psychoactive Substance (NPS) Use Amongst Marginalised, Nightlife and Online Users in Six European Countries.

Van Hout MC, Benschop A, Bujalski M, Dąbrowska K, Demetrovics Z, Felvinczi K, Hearne E, Henriques S, Kaló Z, Kamphausen G, Korf D, Silva JP, Wieczorek Ł, Werse B.

Int J Ment Health Addict. 2018;16(2):480-495. doi: 10.1007/s11469-017-9824-1. 


Neue psychoaktive Substanzen immer noch oft unterschätzt

Stuttgart – Vor den sogenannten neuen psychoaktiven Substanzen (NPS), häufig auch „Legal Highs“ oder „Research Chemicals“ genannt, warnt die Landesärztekammer Baden-Württemberg. „Es handelt sich um psychoaktive Substanzen mit extrem hohen Risiken für die Konsumenten. Die Folgen sind unübersehbar und je nach Substanz unterschiedlich. Schwerste Vergiftungen sind nicht selten“, sagte der Präsident der Kammer, Ulrich Clever. Der Handel mit NPS finde häufig offen im Internet statt. „Das verstärkt leider den Anschein der Harmlosigkeit“, so Clever. (aerzteblatt.de, 23.11.2017)


Abuse of Prescription Drugs in the Context of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS): A Systematic Review.

Schifano F, Chiappini S, Corkery JM, Guirguis A.

Brain Sci. 2018 Apr 22;8(4). pii: E73. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8040073. Review.


Phar-Mon NPS - Informationssystem zu neuen psychoaktiven Substanzen und Medikamenten (Phar-Mon NPS)

Laufzeit: 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2018; Projektleiter: Dr. Daniela Piontek; Förderung: Bundesministerium für Gesundheit (BMG). Durchführung: IFT – Institut für Therapieforschung (München)


Evolutionary Considerations on the Emerging Subculture of the E-psychonauts and the Novel Psychoactive Substances: A Comeback to the Shamanism?

Orsolini L, St John-Smith P, McQueen D, Papanti D, Corkery J, Schifano F.

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2017;15(5):731-737. doi: 10.2174/1570159X15666161111114838.