Effects of Scheduling on the rise of Novel Synthetic Opioids from Fentanyl to its Analogs to the Nitazenes


When: This event originally occurred on April 1st, 2022.

Presenter: Barry Logan PhD, F-ABFT is President of the FRFF, and Executive Director of the CFSRE.


Presenter: M.J. Menendez, JD, Chair of the Board of the Fredric Rieders Family Foundation (FRFF) and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE).


After fentanyl-related substances (FRS) were temporarily scheduled by class on February 18, 2018, fentanyl analogues in the U.S. went into rapid decline. When China scheduled FRS by class on May 1, 2019, that decline continued. Yet, FRS were not subsequently permanently scheduled by the Department of Justice’s DEA. Legislative efforts to permanently schedule FRS have stalled. In this presentation, attendees will learn why government decision-making processes have precluded consideration of permanent scheduling of FRS. Attendees will receive information and data relating public health and public safety benefits gained through FRS temporary scheduling and will be well-placed to assess whether temporary scheduling is sufficiently beneficial to be deployed for emerging non-fentanyl classes such as the nitazenes.

FRS scheduling actions were studied through DEA Federal Register Scheduling Notices, CFSRE NPS publications and data, post-mortem mortality data, governmental publications, and through application of fentanyl analogue declines-to-scheduling-action timing. The U.S. government’s interrelated processes and decisions relating to FRS scheduling from 2018 to present were researched through Congressional testimony, Congressional submissions, governmental publications, and treatises.

The U.S. is unlikely to generically schedule classes of substances due to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ findings as to inability to scientifically and medically assess substances by class. Nevertheless, temporary scheduling of FRS raised scientific and medical awareness utilized by public health and safety which is evidenced by subsequent expedited scheduling actions based on less mortality and substance prevalence, and greater collaboration between stakeholders.

Temporary scheduling of substances by class in the U.S., which included continued individual analogue scheduling, correlated to FRS declines and comported with reduced morbidity and mortality before scheduling. Temporary scheduling by class or generic scheduling should be seriously considered for its benefits to public health and public safety tools regardless of whether permanent scheduling can be effected.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to discuss the progression of opioid from prescription drug use to heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogs
  • Be able to describe the process for traditional and core structure scheduling of opioids.
  • Be able to apply information about emergent classes of novel synthetic opioids to interpretation in drug related deaths.



*Funding for this training was made possible by a cooperative agreement between the National Network of Public Health Institutes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [6 NU38OT000303-03-02]. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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