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This Deadly Drug Is Now Banned In China…What Does It Mean for the US?

On Monday, April 1st China announced it would ban all variants of fentanyl, a powerful opioid. This decision is crucial because it would slow the influx of illegal fentanyl supply coming into the United States.

Xi Jinping. IMG from Wikipedia.
Xi Jinping

Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, had made this pledge to President Trump late last year and the fact that it has come to fruition this quickly is an accomplishment for both nations in the war against opioids.

The export of fentanyl from China accounts for a majority of the drugs that end up in the US, and this has caused tension between the nations in the past. There are already some regulations in place that apply to 25 variants of fentanyl but a group of manufacturers have avoided the regulations by slightly changing the molecular structure to gain a legal loophole that allows them to export the drug without government assessment of medical use and safety.

Fentanyl, is a synthetic opioid that is exponentially stronger than morphine and was originally developed to help treat pain for cancer patients. However, the drug can easily be abused and added to heroin to increase it’s high effects, or even disguised as heroin. Oftentimes, users will think they are purchasing heroin but are actually purchasing fentanyl, easily resulting in overdose deaths.

Mary Brandenberger, a spokeswoman for the DEA explained that this is a huge move for China and that it has the potential to even “eliminate Chinese drug traffickers and their ability to alter fentanyl compounds to get around the law”. 
With opioid overdose deaths hitting the US in record numbers over the last few years, there is hope that this move can help alleviate the current state of the crisis and move towards a resolution.
NPR (2019). “China To Close Loophole On Fentanyl After U.S. Calls For Opioid Action”
NY Times (2019). “China Bans All Types of Fentanyl, Cutting Supply of Deadly Drug to U.S. and Fulfilling Pledge to Trump.”

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