INCB Countering the Opioids Crisis through its Global Projects

VIENNA, 17 May 2018 - INCB, having assessed the latest developments concerning synthetic opioids, including fentanyls and their related precursors that have contributed to the spreading drug overdose epidemic and the opioids crisis, directed its targeted Global Projects to counter the public health threat posed by these substances, including through its newest initiative, the Operational Partnerships to Interdict Opioids' Illicit Distribution and Sales (OPIOIDS) Project.

INCB President Dr. Viroj Sumyai, said, "the opioids crisis is global, and its impacts are felt in various parts of the world; beyond overdoses in Canada, Estonia, Sweden, the UK and the USA, its online trade platforms and redistribution impacts to Europe, illicit fentanyls manufacture and trafficking from East Asia, and spreading abuse of fraudulent tramadol throughout numerous countries beyond Africa." For example, the Board's most recent mission to Estonia led by Cornelis de  Joncheere, identified opioids overdose deaths as among the highest rates in Europe.

At recently convened INCB working groups on opioids trafficking held in January and April, international experts linked the synthetic opioids crisis to high volume internet and darknet transactions of fentanyls, with shipments difficult to interdict within the international letter, express mail and courier systems. In April, the INCB and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) signed an agreement to counter dangerous synthetic opioids trafficked among the billions of letters and e-commerce packets annually, with additional industry partnerships developed with private courier services and online trading platforms.

In addition to the significant overdose and health implications, there are concerns related to financial flows derived from trafficking fraudulent hydrocodone pills containing fentanyls, from organized crime groups, and the potential for a similar scenario involving other pills, such as tramadol, in vulnerable parts of the world.  UNODC recently identified fraudulent tramadol pill trafficking in Africa and its nexus with organized crime and violent extremist groups.

The Board's Global Projects- Project Ion (NPS), Project PRISM+Cohesion (precursors) and its OPIOIDS Project-are responding to these challenges by developing and sharing specific intelligence on known sources and trafficking patterns of dangerous fentanyls, NPS and their precursors, convening task forces and specialized operations, as well as information and alerts. INCB will futher promote its tools, task forces, technical expertise and training designed to increase cooperation against trafficking and increase interdiction of these substances.


 Click here to learn more about the OPIOIDS Project

 Click here to learn more about the INCB targeted Global Initiatives

The Vienna-based Board is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties, ensure that adequate supplies of drugs are available for legitimate uses, that diversion of drugs from licit sources into illicit channels does not occur, monitors controls over chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of drugs, and assists in preventing the diversion of those chemicals into illicit channels.

For further information, please contact:
INCB Secretariat
Telephone for media inquiries: (+43-1) 26060 4163
Email: incb.secretariat[at]

©1995-2023 International Narcotics Control Board