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Health Security publishes special commentary on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s approach to designating evolving and emerging drug threats

Center News


April 17, 2023 – On March 21, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s peer-reviewed journal Health Security published a new commentary online on the national approach to evolving and emerging drug threats. In the commentary, the authors describe how formal designation triggers several required actions by the federal government, including data collection and monitoring and dissemination of this information to state, local, and federal partners.

On April 12, the White House formally designated fentanyl combined with xylazine as an emerging drug threat, putting into action the approach outlined in the Health Security commentary. The Biden administration press release stated that the addition of xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer, to fentanyl “is associated with significant and rapidly worsening negative health consequences, including fatal overdoses and severe morbidity.” Fentanyl-xylazine combination is the first substance ever designated as an emerging threat by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Health Security commentary, “Establishing an Approach for Designation of Evolving and Emerging Drug Threats,” was authored by Dr. Michael A. Ashburn, Dr. David R. Holtgrave, Richard J. Baum, and Dr. Rahul Gupta, all members of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, where they serve in senior technical and leadership roles.