Lisbon, 20-11-2012 — /europawire.eu/ — Europe is faced with an increasingly complex stimulant market, in which consumers are confronted with a wide variety of powders and pills. While cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines continue to be the main players on the stimulant scene, they are now competing with a growing number of emerging synthetic drugs, such as cathinones, one of the largest groups of new drugs being reported in Europe today. Other stimulants are also under scrutiny, and there are signs of methamphetamine making further inroads into the market. Developments in the European stimulant market are described today in the Annual report 2012: the state of the drugs problem in Europe, launched by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) in Lisbon (1).
In the eyes of the consumer, these drugs are, to some extent, ‘interchangeable products’, says the agency, with factors such as availability, price and purity influencing consumer choices and making for a volatile market. The report also describes how users may often be unaware of what they are actually purchasing.
Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner with responsibility for the EMCDDA, says: ‘Stimulant and synthetic drugs play a central role in the European drug situation, creating a market which is fast moving, volatile and difficult to control. More than ever before, young people are exposed to a plethora of powders and pills. Data from emergency rooms, toxicology reports and drug treatment centres indicate that the associated risks are not always well known by the users.’
‘In addressing these new challenges’, adds EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz, ‘it is critical that we improve our understanding of the health and social impact of emerging trends and develop measures to reduce demand. To do this, better forensic and toxicological analysis is essential; as is the need to proactively engage with those most at risk’.
Cocaine — further signs of falling use and status
Over the last decade, cocaine has established itself as the most commonly used illicit stimulant drug in Europe, although most users are found in a small number of western EU countries. Around 15.5 million Europeans (15–64 years) have tried cocaine in their lifetime, around 4 million having used it in the last year (Chapter 5, Table 8). While cocaine use remains a major part of the stimulant drug problem, today’s data confirm the analysis in last year’s report that its popularity and image as a ‘high-status drug’ may be declining.
While some countries still report rising cocaine consumption, recent surveys of cocaine use reveal some positive signs in high-prevalence countries. Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy and the UK for example — the five countries with highest levels of use — report some decline in last-year cocaine use among young adults (15–34 years), echoing the trend in Canada and the United States (Chapter 5, Figure 10; Figure GPS-14, part ii). Potential users may now be more aware of the negative consequences that can accompany cocaine consumption. Low cocaine purity may also be causing some users to switch to other stimulants. Of the 23 countries providing trend data on cocaine purity, 20 reported a decline between 2005 and 2010. The EMCDDA index of average cocaine purity in the EU fell by 22 % in this period (Figure PPP-2).
The report shows that the number of cocaine seizures in Europe continues to fall, reaching around 88 000 in 2010 compared with 100 000 in 2008 (Table SZR-9). The quantities of cocaine seized are also on the decline at European level. Having peaked at around 120 tonnes in 2006, they fell by around half to 61 tonnes in 2010 (Table SZR-10) (Chapter 5, Table 7). This rather dramatic fall in the volume seized probably reflects a diversification in cocaine trafficking operations that has made cocaine interception more challenging. It may also reflect changes in drug law-enforcement resources and priorities in key seizing countries.
Evidence that fewer drug users are seeking treatment for cocaine problems also suggests that its popularity may be waning. Around 15 % of drug users entering specialised treatment report cocaine as their main problem drug (Figure TDI-2, part ii). Recent data on trends in those entering treatment for cocaine problems now show a modest drop in numbers (Figure TDI-3, part ii).
Further signs of MDMA making a comeback on the ‘ecstasy’ market
Around 11.5 million Europeans (15–64 years) have tried ‘ecstasy’ in their lifetime, around 2 million in the last year (Chapter 4, Table 6). Today’s data confirm the analysis in last year’s report that MDMA — the best-known member of the ‘ecstasy’ group of drugs — is making a comeback (2). This follows a shortage of MDMA in recent years when tablets sold as ‘ecstasy’ often contained other substances (e.g. mCPP, BZP, mephedrone). The drop-off in the manufacture of MDMA has been linked to successful measures to limit the diversion of PMK, the precursor chemical needed to make it. But manufacturers are now finding alternative chemicals as their starting material for MDMA. While the contents of tablets sold as ‘ecstasy’ remain diverse, powders and tablets containing high doses of MDMA appear to be becoming more common.
Methamphetamine makes further inroads into Europe’s stimulant market
Use of amphetamines (a term encompassing amphetamine and methamphetamine) remains overall lower than that of cocaine in Europe. Around 13 million Europeans (15–64 years) have tried amphetamines in their lifetime, around 2 million in the last year (Chapter 4, Table 5). Latest trend data show last-year use of amphetamines among young adults (15–34 years) to be overall stable or declining (Chapter 4, Figure 7). Of the two drugs, amphetamine is more commonly used. But methamphetamine use, historically low in Europe and mainly limited to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, now appears to be spreading.
Recent EMCDDA Annual reports have pointed to rising availability of methamphetamine and its edging into new territory in the north of Europe, where it has partially been replacing amphetamine as the stimulant drug of choice (Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Finland). In addition, the EMCDDA notes that, in 2010, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary and Turkey also reported signs of problem methamphetamine use, although estimated at low levels.
Data on seizures published today suggest that production is scaling up and that methamphetamine is making further inroads into Europe’s stimulant market. Between 2005 and 2010, the quantity of methamphetamine seized in Europe (25 EU countries) rose from around 100 kg to around 600 kg (Table SZR-18). Meanwhile, the number of methamphetamine seizures more than tripled in this period from around 2 200 to around 7 300. Countries witnessing marked rises in the number of seizures of this drug between 2009 and 2010 include Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Austria (Table SZR-17).
Further concerns highlighted today relate to the first, albeit sporadic, reports of methamphetamine smoking in Europe and to the availability of ‘crystal meth’. Methamphetamine smoking, to date extremely rare in Europe, is known to be particularly damaging to health. Early in 2013, in response to recent developments, the EMCDDA will launch a ‘trendspotter’ review of this drug which has caused considerable problems outside Europe (e.g. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, USA).
4-MA — new amphetamine-type stimulant now under scrutiny in the wake of deaths
Europe has responded to rising concern over the use of the stimulant drug 4-methylamphetamine (4-MA) by formally requesting an investigation into the health and social risks of the substance (including the involvement of organised crime). The risk-assessment exercise will be carried out in Lisbon this week by the EMCDDA Scientific Committee with experts from the European Commission, Europol and the European Medicines Agency. Currently, the substance is not controlled under drug control legislation in most of the EU Member States (see Joint report)(3).
The exercise is the second stage of a three-step legal procedure through which Europe monitors and acts on new drugs. It was prompted by deaths linked to this substance in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK (the two latter control the substance) and reports of seizures in 14 European countries. A risk-assessment report will be submitted to the European Commission and Council of the EU after the meeting, on the basis of which the Council may decide to subject the drug to control measures across the EU.
4-MA belongs to the group of synthetic phenethylamines and is closely related to amphetamine. On the illicit market, it appears to be sold as amphetamine or mixed with it. This suggests that, while there is little evidence of a specific demand for 4-MA, amphetamine users may be at greater risk of exposure to the drug if it becomes more available.
Over 50 new drugs already detected in 2012 — substances more diverse and more obscure
New drugs continue to be reported in the EU at the rate of around one per week. A total of 49 new psychoactive substances were officially notified for the first time in 2011 via the EU early-warning system (EWS)(4). This represents the largest number of substances ever reported in a single year, up from 41 substances reported in 2010 and 24 in 2009. And preliminary data for 2012 show no signs of a decline, with over 50 already detected.
Synthetic cathinones (e.g. mephedrone, MDPV), which can mimic the effects of cocaine, are one of the two largest drug groups monitored by the EWS (the other being synthetic cannabinoids — e.g. found in ‘Spice’ products)(5). Particularly noteworthy in 2011 was the rising number and diversity of substances reported. All new drugs notified last year, and so far those notified in 2012, have been synthetic.
Alongside rising diversity within the more common new drug groups, the EMCDDA reveals that more obscure chemical groups being reported (see Chapter 8, Figure 20 — ‘Other substances’). It also informs that: ‘The number of products containing multiple psychoactive substances appears to be rising’, with seizures and test purchases revealing samples to contain both controlled and uncontrolled substances. One example is the detection of PMMA in products sold as ‘legal highs’. Placed under control in Europe following an EU risk assessment in 2002, this drug carries high risks of overdose and poses a serious threat to users (6).
To date, says the EMCDDA, data have been scarce on levels of use of these substances, but with countries now carrying out representative surveys including new drugs (e.g. Ireland, Spain, UK), preliminary prevalence data are emerging. Whilst the reported levels of the overall use of these drugs remain relatively low, there is potential for increased uptake in use amongst certain groups. A 2011 Eurobarometer survey on young people’s attitudes to drugs estimated that, on average, 5 % of the young respondents (15–24 years) reported to have used ‘legal highs’ at some point in their life, although levels varied between countries (7).
Record number of online shops selling ‘legal highs’
Today’s report presents the results of the 2012 EMCDDA snapshot of online retailers of ‘legal highs’ which identified a record 693 online shops purportedly selling psychoactive products to EU countries — up from 170 in January 2010. Although three natural products — kratom, salvia and hallucinogenic mushrooms — lead the Top 10 ‘legal highs’ most frequently offered online, the other seven substances were synthetic (see Chapter 8, Table 10).
The snapshot identified a marked rise in the number of Internet shops offering synthetic cathinones (e.g. MDPV, 4-MEC), suggesting that online operators are seeking a replacement for mephedrone, now controlled in the EU. To date, most new drugs have been targeted at recreational drug users. Yet, in some countries, problem drug users are also using new drugs. Reports from Hungary show opioid users injecting synthetic cathinones (mephedrone, MDPV) in times of heroin shortage.
‘Older-new’ drugs must not be overlooked
As attention focuses on old established drugs or the emergence of new substances, a number of the ‘older-new’ drugs have established themselves on the market and should not be overlooked, warns the EMCDDA. These now include GHB, GBL, ketamine, mephedrone and PMMA (8) for which pockets of high use, or increased availability, are reported. Negative health effects, including dependence among chronic users, have been linked to these drugs, while unexpected problems have surfaced, such as bladder disease in ketamine users. These developments underline the need for countries’ drug information systems to be more sensitive to emerging trends and health problems relating to these substances.
Proactive response: countries devise range of tools to tackle threat of emerging drugs
Across Europe, a variety of measures are being developed to reduce the demand for, and supply of, new drugs (see Chapter 8). The speed at which new psychoactive substances can appear and be distributed challenges countries’ established legislative procedures for drug control (9). The Annual report describes how several countries have responded with ‘innovative changes to their legislation or enforcement policies’ (see Chapter 1). The main trend in many countries appears to be to focus on penalising supply rather than use.
Ireland (2010), Romania (2011) and Austria (2012) have introduced new criminal laws penalising the unauthorised distribution, sale or advertising of new psychoactive substances. Other countries have modified existing laws to strengthen or speed up drug control procedures. Poland (2010), for example, has modified its drug law to prohibit the distribution of new substances, while Hungary (2010) and Finland (2011) have set up risk-assessment panels to inform decision-making. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, the UK and Hungary enacted new procedures, becoming the latest countries to bring in ‘temporary controls’ on a substance. These controls are introduced pending further consideration of the harms associated with the drug concerned and a decision on permanent sanctions.
Controls on chemical families of substances (generic controls) rather than individual substances have been introduced in a number of countries’ drug laws in recent years. New developments in this area are reported from: Luxembourg (2009, synthetic cannabinoids); Italy (2011, synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones); Cyprus (2011, synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, phenethylamines), Denmark (2012, synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, phenethylamines, tryptamines) and France (2012, cathinones).
But drug laws are not the only means used to meet the challenges posed by these new substances. Countries are also turning to their medicines and consumer safety laws, for example, to tackle the issue. Consumer safety regulations requiring that goods on sale are accurately labelled in relation to their expected use have been invoked to confiscate ‘Spice’ products in Italy, and mephedrone labelled as ‘bath salts’ and ‘plant food’ in the UK (before mephedrone was controlled under the country’s drug law).
Looking to the future, the European Commission, supported by the EU Member States, the EMCDDA, Europol and the European Medicines Agency is working on new legislation to better address the emergence of new psychoactive substances in the EU (10).
Commenting further on the report, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, noted: ‘This new analysis from the EMCDDA is particularly welcome as it highlights the drug problems we share across the European Union and informs the work we are currently undertaking to strengthen Europe’s strategic and operational approach to drug trafficking and use. I am particularly struck by the speed of developments we are now seeing in the area of synthetic drugs. I think it is clear to all that strong and coordinated actions are required if we are to respond effectively in this area’.
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- Digi Communications N.V. announces the publishing of Independent Limited Assurance Report issued by the external auditor of the Company on 30 July 2020 regarding the information included in the current reports issued by the Company under Law 24/2017 (Article 82) and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts Excited To Announce First Luxury Resort Brand In El Nido, Palawan Island Philippines
- New Customer Data Platform Options Emerge During Pandemic Slowdown: CDP Institute Report
- Digi Communications N.V. announces The Competition Council authorized the economic concentration accomplished by the Company’s Romanian subsidiary („RCS&RDS”) by gaining control over some of the assets held by Akta Telecom S.A., Digital Cable Systems S.A. and ATTP Telecommunications S.R.L.
- TABS Score™ Expands its European Footprint; Begins Partnership Discussions Amongst Key Players in EU Venture Ecosystem
- Mono and Brandify partner to bring appointment booking to local businesses
- Digi Communications N.V. announces ANCOM approval for RCS & RDS S.A. to continue to apply a surcharge for certain roaming services provided in the EEA for a renewed maximum period of 12 months
- DerbySoft Expands Metasearch Coverage for Hotels Around the World
- Palette Life Sciences Announces European Distribution Expansion for Deflux® and Solesta® for More Than Twenty Countries Through Five Leading Distributors and Direct Sales Effort
- Pierre Koukjian and Cedric Koukjian, Designer Duo in Collaboration with Bulgari
- Pierre Koukjian et Cédric Koukjian, Duo de designers en collaboration avec Bulgari
- Former Duff & Phelps EMEA Leader Yann Magnan joins 73 Strings as Co-founder and CEO
- Concern for the oceans drives consumers to 'vote with their forks' for sustainable seafood
- Digi Communications N.V.: Exercise of stock option by Marius Catalin Vărzaru, a Non-Executive Director and VP of the Board of Directors of the Company
- SecurLine Certified to Protect Classified Communications
- Digi Communications N.V. announces that a stock option programme was approved for employees and managers of the Romanian Subsidiary of the Company
- Digi Communications NV announces the exercise of stock options by the Executive Directors of the Company
- Matvil Corp. продолжает бороться с противозаконными действиями юридической системы Молдовы
- Digi Communications NV announces the release of the Q1 2020 Financial Results
- Digi Communications NV announces that conditional stock options were granted to several Directors of the Company based on the general shareholders’ meeting approval from 30 April 2020
- MEDIS medical imaging systems acquires Advanced Medical Imaging Development S.r.l. (AMID) and secures further investment from Van Herk Ventures
- Digi Communications NV announces Investors Call on the Financial Results for Q1 2020
- Digi Communications N.V. announces the availability of the instructions on the 2019 share dividend payment
- Mono Solutions hires Chief Product Officer
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 27 – 30 Apr 2020
- Digi Communications N.V.: GSM resolutions from 30 Apr 2020 approving, amongst others, the 2019 Annual Accounts; availability of the adopted Annual Financial Report for the year ended Dec 31, 2019 for the Group
- RCH Embark on Lasting Partnership with Culinary Institute JRE
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 20 – 24 Apr 2020
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 13 – 17 Apr 2020
- COVID-19: Digi Communications N.V. recommendation regarding participation of shareholders to the AGM convened for 30 April 2020
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 6 – 10 Apr 2020
- DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V.: Exercise of stock option by a Non-Executive Director of the Company
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 30 Mar – 3 Apr 2020
- Chief Commercial Officer joins Mono Solutions
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 23 – 27 Mar 2020
- Digi Communications N.V. reports the admission to trading on the regulated market operated by the Irish Stock Exchange plc (trading as Euronext Dublin) of the senior secured notes issued by RCS & RDS S.A., its Romanian subsidiary
- Delft University of Technology Purchases its Second WebClip2Go Video Production System
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 16 – 20 Mar 2020
- Integrated Services Monitoring Capability Launched by Bridge Technologies
- Digi Communications N.V. announces Convocation of the Company’s general shareholders meeting for 30 April 2020 for the approval of, among others, the 2019 Annual Report and of the 2019 Financial Statements
- Digi Communications N.V. announces The Hungarian Competition Council’s decision to issue a new decision approving the Invitel transaction
- Digi Communications N.V. announces Business continuity in light of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 9 – 13 Mar 2020
- Reporting of legal documents concluded by DIGI Communications N.V. in February 2020 or in other period but effective in February 2020, in accordance with article 82 of Law no. 24/2017 and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 2 – 6 Mar 2020
European Customer Data Platform Industry Grows Quickly Despite Limited Funding: CDP Institute
- « La levée du pilon sur la plate-forme » peut faire la différence entre le saint et l’ordinaire
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 24 – 28 Feb 2020
- EH GROUP ENGINEERING awarded EU Horizon 2020
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 17 – 21 Feb 2020
- Digi Communications NV announces the release of the Preliminary Financial Results for year ended 31 December 2019
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 10 – 14 Feb 2020
- Reporting of legal documents concluded by DIGI Communications N.V. in January 2020 or in other period but effective in January 2020, in accordance with article 82 of Law no. 24/2017 and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- Digi Communications NV announces Investor Call on the Preliminary Financial Results for the year ended 31 December 2019
- Consolidation Looms for Fast-Growing Customer Data Platform Industry: CDP Institute Report
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 3–7 Feb 2020
- Digi Communications N.V. hereby reports successful closing of the offering of senior secured notes by RCS & RDS S.A., its Romanian subsidiary
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 27 – 31 Jan 2020
- Digi Communications N.V.: Independent Limited Assurance Report issued by the external auditor on 30 Jan 2020 regarding the information included in the current reports under Law 24/2017 (Article 82) and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- Digi Communications N.V.: Rectification of the report published on 15 Jan 2020, regarding legal documents concluded by DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. in other periods but effective in Dec 2019, in accordance with article 82 of Law no. 24/2017 and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- Digi Communications N.V. reports the upsize and successful pricing of the offering of senior secured notes by RCS & RDS S.A., its Romanian subsidiary
- RCH To Present New Smart ECR, Robust and Vintage POS Systems at EuroShop 2020
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 20 – 24 Jan 2020
- Digi Communications N.V.: (i) launch of an offering by RCS & RDS S.A. of senior secured notes; (ii) issuance of a notice of conditional full redemption of all outstanding €550.0m 5.0% senior secured notes due 2023 issued by the Company and (iii) restatement by the Company of its unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements for the 9-month period ended 30 Sep 2019
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 13 – 17 Jan 2020
- Reporting of legal documents concluded by DIGI Communications N.V. in December 2019 or in other period but effective in December 2019, in accordance with article 82 of Law no. 24/2017 and FSA Regulation no. 5/2018
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 6 – 10 Jan 2020
- Berlin-based SuitePad named Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2020 category at HotelTechReport.com’s HotelTechAwards
- Notification shares buy-back: DIGI COMMUNICATIONS N.V. reports to the regulated market the transactions which occurred under the DIGI symbol, 30 Dec 2019 – 3 Jan 2020
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