Ministers and Secretaries of Health and Senior Officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States met on June 6 and 7, 2023, in Washington, D.C., at the White House for the North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) Public Health Summit. Synthetic drugs, such as illicit fentanyl, are having devastating health and economic consequences in our societies. At this summit, the three countries coordinated a trilateral approach to the negative health impact of illicit synthetic drugs use throughout North America. Established at the 2016 North American Leaders Summit, the NADD is the principal forum through which the three countries address drug threats facing North America.
The Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, provided opening remarks for the Summit, followed by an overview of the synthetic drug crisis from Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Mexico’s Secretary of Health Dr. Jorge Carlos Alcocer Varela, and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. During the two days, a panel of experts discussed preventing and reducing opioid-related overdose deaths, reducing barriers to treatment for substance use disorder, and the use of data to inform effective public health responses.
For the following year, the three countries plan to prioritize work in two areas:
- Share opportunities and challenges in the accessibility and distribution of overdose reversal medications as one of the tools in the comprehensive prevention of opioid overdose according to each country’s regulatory and legal framework.
- Commit to improve data collection in each country, to share information on current and new trends in drug use, and to identify areas of interest to collaboratively address data and evidence gaps to inform policy and programs nationally and regionally.
The use and trafficking of synthetic drugs pose significant threats to the health and safety of the people of the world. Coordinating a North American public health response to address these threats will enable all three countries to more effectively address the negative health effects of illicit synthetic drugs. We are united in our resolve to address cross-border movement of precursor chemicals used in illegal drug production by disrupting the illicit synthetics supply chain, including preventing the use of precursor chemicals to manufacture illicit substances and attacking synthetic drug trafficking.
The NADD Public Health Summit delivers on commitments made by Presidents Biden and Lopez Obrador, and Prime Minister Trudeau at the sixth North American Leaders’ Summit held in January 2023 and the first Trilateral Fentanyl Committee meeting held in April 2023 to address the synthetic drug crisis.