The illicit opioid market is dynamic and evolving. For the past several decades the United States has been configured to face a 20th Century drug market dominated by plant-based drugs, hierarchical drug trafficking organizations, and cash sales. However, the emergence of synthetic opioids, online marketplaces, cryptocurrencies, and mail delivery to individual buyers has changed the landscape. Individuals now can purchase fentanyl, its many analogues, or other synthetic drugs in small amounts for low dollar figures and receive them in discrete packages through the U.S. mail or by express consignment for personal use or for further sale on a limited scale. This 21st Century drug-trafficking environment has created a complex constellation of international and domestic "micro-networks” with an unlimited synthetic opioid supply, requiring new availability reduction approaches and strategies.
In this session, presenters will explain how federal agencies have applied new thinking and new approaches to reduce the availability of illicit opioids in the U.S. market, and how the national security and law enforcement domains have been brought together with public health efforts to achieve tangible results. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) through its National Opioids Coordination Group (NOCG), created in October 2015, serves as the hub of a network of the federal interagency; international partners; and state, local, and tribal stakeholders focused on the illicit opioid problem. The presentation will also discuss how federal government efforts have been shaped by ONDCP’s five-year Heroin Availability Plan (HARP) developed in 2016 to first address the heroin crisis, the President’s Commission on Drug Abuse and the Opioid Crisis, President Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply, and the National Drug Control Strategy.