The European Commission has adopted a communication on the control of new synthetic drugs. The aim of the communication is to respond to rapid developments in production and distribution of new drugs. Unlike plant-based drugs which are mostly imported into the EU from third countries, synthetic drugs are manufactured from commonly available chemicals within the EU. The simple manufacturing processes mean that these drugs can be made in almost any location, while the ingredients can be changed to respond to additions to the list of substances forbidden under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. According to the Commission, the EU needs to improve its responses to the problem, in order to keep up with the producers and traffickers of synthetic drugs. The communication proposes four main lines of action: - Improved monitoring of trade in precursors, the basic ingredients of these drugs, in particular by strengthening existing legislation on the manufacturing and marketing of sensitive chemical substances; - Creation of an early warning system for new synthetic drugs appearing on the market in EU states; - Establishment of a technical committee to evaluate the risks associated with new drugs reported; - Member States must examine ways in which new drugs can be prohibited in a quick and flexible way. The Commission recognizes that cooperation with the Central and Eastern European countries and the Baltic States is essential for monitoring precursors, controlling production and fighting trafficking. In addition, the communication suggests that the EU should discuss the problem with other partners such as the USA, Japan and Canada, with a view to promoting a joint initiative for the UN special session on drugs in 1998.