Cover: Illegal synthetic opioids

Illegal synthetic opioids

Can Europe prevent a crisis?

Published May 29, 2024

by Mafalda Pardal, Elle Wadsworth, Beau Kilmer

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Potent synthetic opioids, illegally produced, are starting to emerge in Europe. Considering the damaging harms caused by the opioid crisis in North America, which has led to a substantial surge in overdose deaths, it is crucial that European leaders understand the challenges associated with synthetic opioids. In this Perspective, we present and discuss the current situation in Europe concerning synthetic opioids, and draw on earlier and ongoing crises involving this group of substances to reflect on likely challenges ahead and ways to improve preparedness.

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This work was partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and conducted by RAND Europe.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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