New psychoactive substances are becoming widely available at an ‘unprecedented pace’. This is according to the EMCDDAEuropol 2010 annual report on new drugs entering the European market released today in Lisbon. In 2010, a record number of new drugs were officially reported to the EMCDDA and Europol via the EU early-warning system (EWS) on new psychoactive substances.

A total of 41 new psychoactive substances were officially notified for the first time to the two agencies in 2010. This represents the largest number of substances ever reported in a single year, considerably up on 2009 (24 substances) and 2008 (13 substances). The full list of substances notified, annexed to the report, shows a ‘rather diverse’ group, including: synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, synthetic derivatives of well-established drugs, as well as one plant-based substance. 

The report gives an account of the 2010 risk assessment of the synthetic cathinone derivative, mephedrone, which led to the decision for Europe-wide controls on the drug in December 2010. A further 15 synthetic cathinone derivatives were detected during the year. Also documented is the first-time appearance of derivatives of two established drugs: ketamine and PCP (phencyclidine).