The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has been officially rebranded as the European Union Drugs Agency (EUDA).

Under the new title, EUDA will continue to collect, analyse and disseminate drug data, but will have a broader and more proactive remit with the goal of strengthening the EU’s response to emerging health and security challenges posed by illicit drugs.

The work will be organised around anticipating future drug-related challenges and their consequences, issuing real-time alerts on new drug risks and threats to health and security and helping the EU and its member states strengthen their responses to these risks.

To aid this process three new mechanisms have been created, including a European Drug Alert System, which will issue alerts when serious drug-related risks appear on the market; a European Threat Assessment System, which will boost how the EU prepares for and reacts to emerging threats; and a European Network of Forensic and Toxicological Laboratories, which will foster information exchange on new trends and train national toxicologists and forensic drug experts.

‘Simply knowing what the emerging trends [in drugs] are elsewhere can be very important for us understanding what’s going on,’ said EUDA scientific director, Peter Griffiths. ‘We have a huge cocaine problem in Europe and some of the cartels involved also produce synthetic opioids which are quite prevalent in North America. These substances, such as nitazenes and xylazines, can easily be shipped to Europe because of their size and concentration.’

‘We can now back up our early monitoring work with forensic and toxicological analysis, which is critically important in relation to synthetic drugs.’