WHO calls for stringent drug control measures against carfentanil
Breaking News Dec 15, 2017
WHO calls for stringent drug control measures against carfentanil

In the wake of the rising overdose deaths involving carfentanil in the United States and other North American countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed a recommendation  seeking strict drug control measures for the fentanyl analogue. The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) had demanded inclusion of carfentanil and other fentanyl analogues into Schedules I and IV of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Schedules I and IV drugs attract strong drug control measures. Schedule IV drugs, in particular, are subject to strongest possible regulations. These drugs are prohibited for production and supply, except under license for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research. Carfentanil, for example, is contraindicated for human use.

Currently, carfentanil use is restricted to restraining and capturing large animals, such as elephants in emergencies in zoos. Never intended for human use, the synthetic opioid is known as a substance of abuse and is often used with heroin. Like fentanyl, carfentanil is associated with lethal effects and overdose deaths. The ECDD also recommended transferring five more fentanyl analogues – fluoroisobutyrfentanyl, acryloylfentanyl, ocfentanil, furanyl fentanyl and tetrahydrofurany to – Schedule I.

‘CBD could have some therapeutic value’

In a meeting held in November 2017, the ECDD reviewed several New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), also known as “legal highs.” They are legalized synthetic substances developed to replicate the effects of psychoactive substances like cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. The ECDD meeting also saw experts taking a call on cannabidiol (CBD), the major component of cannabis that forms around 40 percent of the plant’s extract and is free from the psychoactive properties of the plant. Currently, 16 U.S. states allow the medical use of cannabidiol (CBD).

According to an initial review by the committee, CBD “could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions.” As the evidence suggested, it had lesser risk abuse or dependence potential compared to other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the ECDD could not justify scheduling of cannabidiol in the initial review. The committee, therefore, postponed the scheduling for a fuller review to May 2018.

Dealing with drug overdoses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 64,000 Americans died from overdoes in 2016, a 22 percent increase over the previous year. Most of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl and its analogues. The CDC’s October 2017 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) suggested that of 5,152 opioid overdose deaths in 10 American states, 3,000 were caused by fentanyl, during July-December 2016. In addition, 700 more deaths were attributed to fentanyl analogues, including carfentanil.

Addiction to opioids, including fentanyl and its analogues, has debilitating health implications. Therefore, it is important for people to seek timely treatment to get over addiction. If you are grappling with a drug addiction, seek professional help immediately at a reputed rehab center.

Hooked Sober is a source of information on drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and mental disorders. Please send your questions, concerns or comments to [email protected] or speak to a representative at 866-838-4087.

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