New synthetic opioids

Overall, 25 new opioids have been detected on Europe’s drug market since 2009 - including 9 reported for the first time in 2016. This includes 18 fentanyls, 8 of which were reported for the first time in 2016. Although currently playing a small role in Europe’s drug market, the new fentanyls are highly potent substances that pose a serious threat to individual and public health.

New opioids have been seized in various forms: mainly powders, tablets, capsules, and since 2014, also as liquids. Over 60 % of the 600 seizures of new synthetic opioids reported in 2015 were fentanyls. Almost 2 litres of synthetic opioids was seized in 2015, an increase from the 240 ml reported the previous year. Fentanyls were found in 85 % of the liquids seized. One concern in this respect is the appearance on the market of nasal sprays containing fentanyls such as acryloylfentanyl and furanylfentanyl. Reflecting their low share of the market as well as their high potency, these opioids account for 0.75 % of the total number of seizures of new substances but for only 0.04 % of the total quantity seized.