In recent years, the illicit drug market around the world has seen a major rise in the production and use of synthetic drugs, including the rapid development of analogues of conventional drugs such as marijuana, amphetamine, and opiates. Since 2015, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and its analogues have increasingly emerged in the illegal drug market in the U.S., most often added to heroin or sold in counterfeit opioid prescription pills. In 2018, 30,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. involved synthetic opioids.
The purpose of this invitation-only symposium is to educate advocates, congressional staff, administration officials, and scholars about the possibility that classwide scheduling of fentanyl analogues will yield unintended consequences, and to highlight evidence-based alternatives that can help reduce overdose deaths. Participants will learn about the relationship between classwide scheduling and public health policy approaches to dealing with fentanyl analogues and overdose. Participants will be presented with an intersectional discussion of the issue that examines classwide scheduling and its impact on the criminal legal system, racial inequities, scientific research, medicine, and evidence-based drug policy.