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Rx and Illicit Drugs Summit 2023 Takeaways

Updated: Apr 3

Spectra Plasmonics was proud to be an exhibitor at the 2023 Rx and Illicit Drugs Summit in Atlanta this month. During the conference, we had the privilege of meeting the individuals and organizations that are combatting the overdose crisis in the US.

Key Takeaways from Rx Summit

  • Harm reduction is shifting from taboo to being a major pillar of US strategy moving forward

  • Fentanyl laced with xylazine classified as an emerging threat by the Biden Administration

  • Upcoming drug trends including an increase in the presence of nitazene and pills

harm reduction was discussed at Rx Summit

Fentanyl, Xylazine, and Harm Reduction in the US

The US is quickly adopting harm reduction as a key part of the strategy to combat the opioid crisis. In the past, the emphasis was mostly on enforcement as a way of fighting the crisis. Harm reduction has historically been viewed as a taboo. Public Health, non-profits and even enforcement agencies are increasingly working together to combat the overdose crisis. Enforcement will still play a role but will be focused on the cartels and supply chains that bring fentanyl and other dangerous substances into the drug supply.

Fentanyl with xylazine was designated an emerging threat. Dr. Gupta the current director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced the decision during his Wednesday speech at the summit. ONDCP is convening an interagency working group to inform the development of the national response plan. The response will include:

  • Work on a point-of-care xylazine test (Amplifi ID already has these capabilities)

  • Develop and invest in real-time data tools to better understand the drug supply (Amplifi ID’s Drug Landscape Dashboard can be one of the tools used for this)

  • Develop treatments and supportive care protocols to help address xylazine side effects and withdrawal to help people in recovery

  • Strategies to reduce the supply of xylazine in the street drug market

  • Research into the interactions between xylazine and fentanyl

  • Link to official White House statement

This is an important step and shows the seriousness of the administration to combat the opioid crisis. Xylazine is becoming the dominant additive in fentanyl in both the US and Canada. The state of xylazine in the Canadian supply was recently covered in a CBC article.

Another New Trend: Nitazene Opioids

There were many discussions on the state of the street drug supply and upcoming trends that people should be aware of. One of the more concerning trends aside from xylazine are the rise of nitazene opioids being found in the supply. During the initial stages of the opioid crisis, the composition of the drug migrated away from counterfeit pills to powdered substances that contained heroin and then fentanyl. Recently in some counties, there appears to be a shift back to pills as the composition of choice for dealers.

Rx Summit made it clear that the drug landscape is changing at a rapid pace with substances like xylazine and nitazene opioids becoming more common and other synthetics being added every day. Drug checking is an important harm reduction tool that can provide crucial insights into the drug supply.

If you would like to learn more about detecting xylazine with Amplifi ID, click the link below to contact us and learn more.


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