Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of seizures and
unintentional overdose fatalities related to illicit synthetic opioids in multiple states across the
U.S. Submitted in response to NIDA PAR-16-055, Research Area 1 (Responses to sudden and
severe emerging drug issues), this time-sensitive R21 application builds on interdisciplinary
collaboration between researchers at the Center for Interventions, Treatment and Additions
Research (CITAR) and the Ohio Center of Excellence in Knowledge-enabled Computing
(Kno.e.sis) at Wright State University. The overall purposes of the proposed study are to (a)
characterize illicit synthetic opioid marketing characteristics and trends, and (b) identify new,
emerging illicit synthetic opioid terms (e.g., substance names, product forms) from three
"cryptomarkets" located in the Deep Web. The Specific Aims of the study are to: 1) Develop a
semi-automated knowledge-based system, eDarkTrends, to collect and process data about illicit
synthetic opioids supplied on cryptomarkets; 2a) Describe and monitor US-based supply trends
of illicit synthetic opioids on cryptomarkets (e.g., trends in availability of non-pharmaceutical
fentanyl analogs, U-47700, MT-45), including types of illicit synthetic opioids, prices, advertised
purity, dosage and product forms, quantity supplied, and drug combinations; 2b) Identify new
illicit synthetic opioid substances and product forms soon after they appear on cryptomarkets.
The proposed study is significant because it will provide new information about illicit synthetic
opioids and will identify new illicit synthetic opioids as soon as they appear on those markets.
The key innovation is the development of a semi-automated system able to a) collect and
analyze advertisement data from cryptomarkets and b) identify new emerging substances
advertised on these markets.