About

I’m Michael Evans-Brown and this is my personal site.

I work at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon, Portugal, on the European Union Early Warning System and risk assessment of new psychoactive substances (NPS) as Programme Manager for Risk Assessment and Risk Communication.

What are new psychoactive substances?

NPS are drugs that are not controlled by the United Nations international drug control conventions of 1961 and 1971 but that may pose similar health and social threats to drugs controlled under these conventions. They are also commonly known as ‘novel psychoactive substances’, ‘designer drugs’, ‘novel drugs’, ‘new drugs’ or ‘legal highs’. Many of them are traded as “legal” replacements to controlled drugs such as cannabis, heroin, benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA. Driven by globalisation, there has been a large increase in the availability and harms caused by NPS over the last decade in Europe.

The EMCDDA is monitoring more than 720 NPS that have appeared on Europe’s drug market in the last 20 years, of which almost 90% have appeared in the last decade.

While some policy responses have been successful in reducing availability and sales of these substances – such as “legal highs” and “research chemicals” sold openly in the high street and online – and there are signs that growth in the market is slowing, new challenges have emerged. This includes monitoring a growing number of highly potent substances – including more than 180 synthetic cannabinoids and 30 fentanils – that can pose a high risk of life-threatening poisoning to users and can cause explosive outbreaks.

Responding to new psychoactive substances

In Europe, a three-step legal framework of early warning, risk assessment, and control measures allows the European Union to rapidly detect, assess, and respond to public health and social threats caused by NPS.

The EMCDDA is responsible for the first two steps in this system, namely, operating the EU Early Warning System with Europol (the European Union Agency for law enforcement cooperation) and conducting risk assessments, whereas the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament are responsible for control measures.

You can find out more about this work and download our reports here.

See also:

Here’s our latest report:

Fentanils and synthetic cannabinoids: driving greater complexity into the drug situation — an update from the EU Early Warning System, June 2018

Publications

Fentanils: a serious threat to public health.
Mounteney J, Griffiths P, Sedefov R, Evans-Brown M. Addiction. 2019.

Responding to new psychoactive substances in the European Union: Early warning, risk assessment, and control measures.
Evans-Brown M, Sedefov R. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2018;252:3-49.
PubMed entry | Journal site

Responding to new psychoactive substances in the European Union: Early warning, risk assessment, and control measures.
Evans-Brown M, Almeida A, Gallegos A, Christie R, Jorge R, Danielsson HV, le Ruez T, Sedefov R. In: Chemical Health Threats: Assessing and Alerting. Edited by: Duarte-Davidson R, et al. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2018.

Fentanils: A serious threat to public health in Europe.
Evans-Brown M, Almeida A, Gallegos A, Christie R, Jorge R, Danielsson HV, le Ruez T, Sedefov R. In: Chemical Health Threats: Assessing and Alerting. Edited by: Duarte-Davidson R, et al. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2018.

Assessing the toxicological significance of new psychoactive substances in fatalities.
Elliott S, Sedefov R, Evans-Brown M. Drug Test Anal. 2018;10(1):120–6.
PubMed entry | Journal site

Acryloylfentanyl (acrylfentanyl), a recently emerged new psychoactive substance: a comprehensive review.
Ujváry I, Jorge R, Christie R, Le Ruez T, Danielsson HV, Kronstrand R, Elliott S, Gallegos A, Sedefov R, Evans-Brown M. Forensic Tox. 2017;35(2):232–43.
PubMed entry | Journal site

New psychoactive substances: driving greater complexity into the drug problem.
Evans-Brown M, Sedefov R. Addiction. 2017;112(1):36–8.
PubMed entry | Journal site

Legal controls of psychoactive substances in Europe.
Hughes B, Evans-Brown M, Sedefov R. Handbuch Psychoaktive Substanzen. 2016. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Anabolic steroids detected in bodybuilding dietary supplements – a significant risk to public health.
Abbate V, Kicman AT, Evans-Brown M, McVeigh J, Cowan DA, Wilson C, Coles SJ, Walker CJ. Drug Test Anal. 2015;7(7):609–18.

The new drug phenomenon.
Brandt SD, King LA, Evans-Brown M. Drug Test Anal. 2014;6(7-8):587–97.
PubMed entry | Journal site

Identification and characterization by LC-UV-MS/MS of melanotan II skin-tanning products sold illegally on the Internet.
Breindahl T, Evans-Brown M, Hindersson P, McVeigh J, Bellis M, Stensballe A, Kimergård A. Drug Test Anal. 2015;7(2):164–72.

Injection site infections and injuries in men who inject image- and performance-enhancing drugs: prevalence, risks factors, and healthcare seeking.
Hope VD, McVeigh J, Marongiu A, Evans-Brown M, Smith J, Kimergård A, Parry JV, Ncube F. Epidemiol Infect. 2015;143(1):132–40.

Is the breast cancer drug tamoxifen being sold as a bodybuilding dietary supplement?
Evans-Brown M, Kimergård A, McVeigh J, Chandler M, Brandt SD. BMJ. 2014;348:g1476.

The (mis)use of psychoactive medicines: getting the balance right in complex systems.
Griffiths P, Evans-Brown M, Sedefov R. Addiction. 2014;109(2):182–3.

Prevalence of, and risk factors for, HIV, hepatitis B and C infections among men who inject image and performance enhancing drugs: a cross-sectional study.
Hope VD, McVeigh J, Marongiu A, Evans-Brown M, Smith J, Kimergård A, Croxford S, Beynon CM, Parry JV, Bellis MA, Ncube F. BMJ Open. 2013;3(9):e003207.
PubMed entry | Journal site

Getting up to speed with the public health and regulatory challenges posed by new psychoactive substances in the Information Age.
Griffiths P, Evans-Brown M, Sedefov R. Addiction. 2013;108(10):1700–3.

Human enhancement drugs and the pursuit of perfection.
McVeigh J, Evans-Brown M, Bellis MA. Adicciones. 2012;24(3):185–90.

Social, policy, and public health perspectives on new psychoactive substances.
Sumnall HR, Evans-Brown M, McVeigh J. Drug Test Anal. 2011;3(7-8):515–23.

Should “legal highs” be regulated as medicinal products?
Evans-Brown M, Bellis MA, McVeigh J. BMJ. 2011;342:d1101.

Elephant in the room? The methodological implications for public health research of performance-enhancing drugs derived from the illicit market.
Evans-Brown M, Kimergård A, McVeigh J. Drug Test Anal. 2009;1(7):323–6.

Use of melanotan I and II in the general population.
Evans-Brown M, Dawson RT, Chandler M, McVeigh J.BMJ. 2009;338:b566.

Injecting human growth hormone as a performance-enhancing drug—perspectives from the United Kingdom.
Evans-Brown M, McVeigh J. J Subst Use. 2009;14:267–88.

The dire consequences of doping?
Evans-Brown M, Dawson R, McVeigh J. Lancet. 2008;372(9649):1544.