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China Announces New Crackdown on Fentanyl

In Health, World
April 01, 2019

The Chinese government on Monday announced that it will add fentanyl-related substances to their list of controlled drugs from May 1, in a move aimed at curtailing the manufacturing and distribution of one of the world’s most powerful opioids.

The announcement was made jointly by the Ministry of Public Security, National Health Commission and the National Medical Products Administration at a press conference here, CNN reported. Liu Yuejin, deputy head of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, called the move a “major innovative measure” in the country’s contribution to the global war on drugs.

The top anti-narcotics official said the new regulation would prevent drug labs from evading the law by simply tweaking chemical structures of their products. Liu stressed that China would enforce its laws “even more comprehensively” after the latest announcement and “bring violators to justice without mercy”.

An extremely powerful synthetic drug, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl was used in one in four overdose deaths in the US in 2018, killing just over 18,000 people in one year and overtaking heroin and oxycodone as the country’s most deadly drug.

In March 2017, China banned the manufacture and sale of four types of fentanyl and later expanded the list to 25 types, but US President Donald Trump’s administration had been pushing for a wider ban to slow the flow of the deadly drug into America. Last August, Trump accused China of being behind the US’ opioid crisis, claiming fentanyl was “pouring into the US postal system”. In October 2018, Trump signed into law sweeping legislation to curb the epidemic, pouring billions of dollars of funding into treatment and prevention.

On Monday, Liu denied Washington’s accusation that China was the primary source for fentanyl substances in the US, pointing a finger at US domestic issues ranging from over-prescription of painkillers to the powerful pharmaceutical lobby.