The use of illicit drugs is rising every year globally and has become a big concern for countries including the U.S., the U.K. Japan, Germany, India and China. Illicit drugs in use include heroin, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine. Global cocaine seizures increased to 671 tons in 2012, compared with the 634 tons seized in 2011. The main increase in the quantities of cocaine seized was in South America and Western and Central Europe. Some of the new psychoactive substances (NPS) like, phenethylamines, ketamine, piperazine and tryptamines, are also being used widely in the drug market.
Further Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates, drug trafficking is increasing worldwide due to rising demand of illicit drugs (mainly heroin, cocaine and amphetamines). World heroin consumption and seizures represent an annual flow of 430 tons to 450 tons of heroin in the global heroin market.
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According to data from the UNODC and European crime-fighting agency Europol, the annual global drugs trade is worth around $435.0 billion a year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion. With the exception of opiate use, use of all other groups of substances (opioids, cannabis, cocaine, ATS and ecstasy) remains at level higher than the global average in the region. In the U.S., illicit drug use by persons aged 12 years or older reached the highest level in the past 10 years, increasing from 15.0% in 2011 to 16.0% in 2012.
The overall demand for drug of abuse testing is rising and the same is being used mostly by healthcare service providers, public and private organizations and other government agencies. The two major technologies used for onsite screening testing and laboratory testing of drug of abuse are immunoassay technique and chromatography.
Global Drug of Abuse Testing Market – Regional Analysis
Roche Holding Limited, Quest Diagnostics, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, Alere Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Randox Laboratories Ltd, Psychemedics Corporation, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc, Sonic Healthcare and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and others are some of the major players in the Global Drug of Abuse Testing Market.
In North America, the usage of cocaine has been declining since 2006, partly due to a sustained shortage. However, more recently, a slight increase in prevalence of cocaine has been observed in the U.S., as there has been an increase in maritime seizures.
In Europe, cannabis is by far the most commonly consumed illicit substance, with an estimated 24 million users (4.3% of those aged 15 years to 64 years), followed by cocaine with 3.7 million users in 2013.
In Europe, the market has changed over the past decade, with cannabis herb produced locally or regionally now gaining ground over cannabis resin, largely sourced from Morocco, which previously was the dominant cannabis substance in Europe.
It appears that the flow of heroin along the long-established Balkan route, from Afghanistan to Western and Central Europe via Iran and Turkey, has declined in recent years. Some of the factors contributing to the decline in seizures along this route include the success of law enforcement authorities in key transit countries and a decline in demand in the destination market.
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By far the highest prevalence of injecting drug use, with a rate 4.6 times the global average, is found in Eastern/South-Eastern Europe, where 1.3% of the population aged 15-64 are estimated to have recently injected drugs. Although the general public may perceive cannabis to be the least harmful illicit drug, between 2003 and 2012 the proportion of total treatment admissions for cannabis increased in Western and Central Europe, from 19% to 25%.
In Asia, it is estimated that cannabis is the most common illicit substance, with an annual prevalence of use of 1.9%, followed by ATS (excluding ecstasy) at 0.7%, ecstasy at 0.4%, opiates at 0.4% and cocaine at 0.1%, among those aged 15-64 years. The use of methamphetamine continues to rise in most of the countries in East and South-East Asia, with accompanying seizures of methamphetamine in pill and crystalline forms reaching record levels in 2012. It has been indicated that in East and South-East Asia, the use of ATS has both increased and diversified. ATS has been ranked among the three predominately used drug types in countries in the sub-region since 2009.
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