Among the expanding world of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), Designer Medicines (DM) are designed to mimic psychoactive drugs and might lead to adverse events of various severity. The DM category includes designer benzodiazepines (DB), phenmetrazine, modafinil, methylphenidate analogs, and novel synthetic opioids (NSO). To investigate DM-related complications in France, all data on NPS collected in the French Addictovigilance network database through spontaneous reports (SRs) and the annual survey on deaths related to the abuse of licit and illicit psychoactive substances (DRAMES survey) between 2009 and 2017 were analyzed. From 2009 to 2017, about 800 cases of NPS-related abuse or somatic complications were reported to the French Addictovigilance Network, including 71 fatal cases (9%). DM use progressively increased over the years, particularly after 2013 (4% of all SRs on NPS in 2011 versus 14% in 2017). Moreover, DM were implicated in 17% of NPS-related deaths in France, just after cathinones (43%) and dissociative drugs (22%). NSO, DB and phenidate analogs were identified in 42%, 25% and 25% of all DM-related death reports, respectively. DM seem to interest a new target group of users that includes mainly patients and healthy people rather than substance users. The availability on the Internet of compounds mimicking therapeutic drugs is a worrying phenomenon that could lead to their uncontrolled use.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.