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.
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.