05 Apr China Bans All Types of Fentanyl
Recently the New York Times shared a story about newly implemented laws in China that deal with cutting Fentanyl supplies to the United States. This comes just one year after President Xi Jinping promised President Trump he would employ stricter policies with regard to Fentanyl distribution to the U.S. Studies reveal deaths related to Fentanyl have been one of the leading causes of overdoses in the U.S. for the last few years, even surpassing loss of life from car accidents, H.I.V., and gun violence.
In the past, China’s distribution of Fentanyl to the United States has been a source of contention and heated debates between the two powerhouse countries. Additionally, the drug recently became tangled up in the escalating trade wars each country is firmly executing. The newest laws will go into effect on May 1, classifying all types of Fentanyl as a controlled substance. This move will make it much more difficult for variants of Fentanyl to slip through the system and make its way overseas.
According to the D.E.A., much of the illegally produced fentanyl from China comes into the U.S. through Mexico and is then mixed with heroin, prescription pills and other types of drugs. Oftentimes users have no idea their pills are laced with Fentanyl, and in many cases, this leads to an accidental overdose. In fact, “[Fentanyl] became the leading cause of overdose deaths in 2016 and contributed to 28,466 of the roughly 72,000 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted in 2017.” The article also mentions that the strongest penetration of Fentanyl-related overdoses in the U.S. are being felt in the Midwest and Northeast parts of the country, but all states are experiencing the effects of the powerful drug.
The D.E.A. believes China’s new law will be “significant,” and make it much more difficult for Chinese drug traffickers to alter Fentanyl in a way that would previously have slipped past the regulations. On the other side of the coin, Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of the National Narcotics Control Commission in China notes, ‘“We believe that the United States is the main cause of the problem of the abuse of fentanyl in the United States.”’ The vice commissioner went on to cite “weak enforcement and a culture of addiction” as a larger problem. He also pointed out that the U.S. “consumed 80 percent of the world’s opioids while making up only 5 percent of the world’s population.”
Renowned Fentanyl researcher and family physician, Dr. Daniel Ciccarone admits that although the sentiment and effort on China’s end is appreciated, he doesn’t believe it will help very much and has a “small chance of success.” Ciccarone explains that because Fentanyl is so powerful “a little bit goes a long way.” In his expert opinion, “stopping production and shipping of a much smaller-volume drug is wishing big.”
Additional doctors and experts on the matter agree that the United States must change its policies to help counter America’s opioid addition. They suggest “expanding access to buprenorphine, a medicine that treats opioid addiction, by no longer requiring doctors and nurse practitioners to get special training and licenses to prescribe it.”
In any case, with joint efforts from China and the United States in the works, the goal is ultimately to reduce the ease of Fentanyl distribution to the U.S. and decrease overdoses in the coming years. Only time will tell if the newly implemented laws are going to make a noticeable difference.