First international forum on new drugs, 11–12 May 2011, Lisbon

Leading experts to review global developments in new drugs and ‘legal highs’

Leading European and international experts on new drugs will meet in Lisbon from 11–12 May to take stock of what has now become a global phenomenon. The First international multidisciplinary forum on new drugs, organised by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), will provide a comprehensive overview on new psychoactive substances and identify common anchor points to inform future actions.

Ahead of the event, EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz referred to the dynamic nature of new drugs — often referred to as ‘legal highs’ — and the timeliness of an event of this kind. ‘The rate at which this phenomenon is developing is reflected, not only in the sheer number of substances appearing on the market, but also in their diversity and in how they are produced, distributed and marketed. These developments pose a serious challenge to how we currently monitor, assess and respond to new psychoactive substances,’ he said.

The event will focus on early-warning systems, risk assessments and controls as well as options for prevention and treatment. Around 100 delegates will trace how the phenomenon has developed over the last 10 years and compare, through case studies, differing national experiences.

‘The purpose of the forum is to arrive at a comprehensive vision for the future regarding how these substances will impact on drug use, responses and policies’, says Götz.

Discussions will be organised around six themes:

  • Global review: perspectives on a dynamic phenomenon
  • Understanding the evidence: forensic science, a key component
  • Epidemiology: auditing current capacity and identifying future priorities
  • Making the most of the evidence: early warning
  • Defining a balanced response agenda
  • A comprehensive vision for the future

The participating experts have been selected for their technical expertise and research in the field of new psychoactive substances and include: forensic scientists; epidemiologists; clinicians; law-enforcement experts; and technical staff from the European Commission, Europol and the European Medicines Agency.

In addition to participants from the 27 EU Member States, Croatia, Turkey and Norway, experts have been invited from: Australia, Belarus, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States.

The forum will be preceded by the 11th Annual meeting of the EMCDDA–Reitox early-warning system network. The European early-warning system provides EU Member States with an information exchange mechanism for reporting on the emergence of new psychoactive substances. It is a key element in Europe’s fast-track system for assessing and responding to new drugs (see www.emcdda.europa.eu/drug-situation/new-drugs).

The forum is not open to the media, however a full programme and other information will be available at: www.emcdda.europa.eu/events/2011/new-drugs-forum


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