China Bans Deadly Overdose-Causing Drug: Fentanyl

On Monday, China announced it would ban all variants of the powerful Opioid drug Fentanyl, an effort that could slow the supply of the illicit drug to the United States. According to the CDC, American overdose death rates linked to synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl increased more than 45% from 2016 to 2017. Vice commissioner of the National Control Commission, Liu Yuejin, revealed that China would begin regulating all Fentanyl-related drugs as a class of controlled substances in an effort to reduce Chinese manufacturing and distribution of the deadly Opioid.

The new ban goes into effect May 1st and will fulfill a promise President Xi Jinping made regarding the Opioid analogue to President Trump at the G-20 Summit last year.

China already regulates the production and distribution of more than two dozen Fentanyl variants, but these restrictions can vary case-by-case and are easy for Opioid merchants to get around. Chinese officials hope the new ban will facilitate prosecution of Opioid distributors, who until now have evaded the law by manufacturing and exporting Fentanyl variants that were still technically legal.

“We firmly believe that listing the entire class of Fentanyl substances will completely block the loopholes that enable law breakers to evade punishment by simply modifying one or several atoms, functional groups or other groups,” Liu Yuejin said. “It will effectively prevent the massive abuse of Fentanyl substances and illegal drug trafficking and smuggling activities, and contribute to global drug control with China’s wisdom and power.”

The Connection Between Chinese Fentanyl and American Consumers

The announcement comes four months after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Trump in Argentina for the G-20 Summit. The two sides reportedly discussed a crackdown on Fentanyl, with China pledging afterward to list all the Fentanyl-like substances as controlled substances and start work on adjusting related regulations. President Trump categorized Xi Jinping’s commitment as a potential “game changer” for the United States, where tens of thousands of people die annually from Opioid overdoses.

U.S. officials have long pointed fingers at China as the main source of the deadly overdose drug that’s helped fuel the American Opioid Crisis. Although China denies these claims, data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have shown that when China bans a variant of Fentanyl, seizures of that version fall in the United States as well.

Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than Morphine.

Trump and Xi Jinping are expected to meet again in the coming months to sign an eventual agreement.