New synthetic opioids: Part of a new addiction landscape

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Nov;106:133-140. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.06.010. Epub 2018 Sep 12.


Synthetic opioids (SO) are a major risk for public health across the world. These drugs can be divided into 2 categories, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical fentanyls. A new generation of SO has emerged on the drug market since 2010. North America is currently facing an opioid epidemic of morbi-mortality, caused by over-prescription of opioids, illegally diverted prescribed medicines, the increasing use of heroin and the emergence of SO. Furthermore, this opioid crisis is also seen in Europe. SO are new psychoactive substances characterized by different feature such as easy availability on the Internet, low price, purity, legality, and lack of detection in laboratory tests. They have not been approved or are not recommended for human use. Opioid misuse is associated with somatic and psychiatric complications. For many substances, limited pharmacological information is available, increasing the risk of harmful adverse events. Health actors and the general population need to be clearly informed of the potential risks and consequences of the diffusion and use of SO.

Keywords: AH-7921; Adverse effects; Fatalities; Fentanyl; MT-45; New psychoactive substances; Psychiatric complications; Somatic complications; Substance use disorder; Synthetic opioids; U-47700.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / chemically induced*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / epidemiology
  • Fentanyl / adverse effects*
  • Fentanyl / analysis
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Synthetic Drugs / adverse effects*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Synthetic Drugs
  • Fentanyl