Alert in France on nitazenes: what are these “particularly dangerous” opioids which will be banned from this Tuesday ?

The National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) alerted this Monday July 8, 2024 about the circulation in France of new synthetic opioids, nitazenes, "particularly dangerous" because "more powerful than other opioids" including morphine.

"Given these risks, and in a context where summer population movements will be very significant in France, the authorities have decided to include these compounds on the list of narcotics"< /em>, indicates the medicine policeman.

This means that "the production, sale and use" of nitazenes will be prohibited from this Tuesday July 9, 2024.

"They can cause overdoses"

These substances, also called "benzimidazole derivatives" and presented in the form of powder, tablet or liquid, are mainly used to relieve pain, such as morphine or fentanyl, which are also the subject of an illicit market and consumption.

"They can cause overdoses" which "can occur suddenly, within a very short time after taking it, and lead to a life-threatening situation, due to their potency", warns the agency public.


She recommends that users and those around them "have one or more naloxone kits available, the antidote in the event of ;overdose".

The signs of an opioid overdose can also "appear several hours later" by difficulty in breathing normally, nausea, a constricted pupil, disturbances of consciousness, drowsiness up to coma which can lead to death, details the ANSM.

Death cases

Two cases of death have been reported in France. In England and Eastern Europe, several dozen deaths linked to nitazenes have been reported since 2023.

The UN alerted on June 26, 2024, in a report, about the emergence of this new group of synthetic drugs potentially more powerful than the devastating fentanyl and about a "wave" of associated deaths.

500 times stronger than morphine

Nitazenes, 500 times stronger than morphine, "have recently appeared in high-income countries, causing an increase in overdose deaths", observed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


Noting "the expansion of these very potent opiates", mainly from China, an expert, Angela Me, mentioned a probable link with "the situation in Afghanistan", where opium production has fallen since the banning of poppy cultivation by the Taliban.

UNODC has expressed concern that "heroin users are turning to synthetic opioids posing serious risks to health", such as fentanyl, opiate substitution treatments (methadone, subutex), and now nitazenes.

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