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China’s agreement expected to slow flow of fentanyl into US, but not solve overdose epidemic

by Ryan Lee
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Fentanyl Agreement

China’s recent agreement to curtail the shipment of materials used to produce fentanyl to Latin America and elsewhere, as well as resuming information sharing about suspected trafficking, is seen as a step in the right direction by experts. However, it may not be sufficient to fully address the overdose crisis in the United States.

Adam Wandt, an associate professor of public policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, acknowledges that these measures should reduce the amount of fentanyl in the U.S., but the timeline for their impact depends on how much of the chemicals are already in the possession of Mexican cartels. Furthermore, even if fentanyl production is significantly reduced, there is concern that drug suppliers may shift to other, potentially even more lethal drugs.

Kevin Roy, the chief public policy officer at Shatterproof, a national group dedicated to combating addiction and overdose, emphasizes that while the announced steps are crucial, their successful implementation is essential. However, he also expresses concern about the lack of agreements on dealing with the issue of laundering drug money through China.

Fentanyl became a widespread problem in the U.S. about a decade ago, partly due to crackdowns on opioid painkiller prescriptions. Initially, it was primarily shipped from China to the U.S., given its ease of concealment in small packages and envelopes. Fentanyl’s potency and synthetic nature make it attractive to drug suppliers, as it doesn’t depend on the cultivation of crops like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana.

While China agreed in late 2018 to crack down on shipments of finished fentanyl and some precursors, production subsequently shifted to Mexico, with raw materials still originating mainly from China. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the leading cause of death in the ongoing drug crisis in the U.S., with over 100,000 overdose-related deaths recorded last year.

Fentanyl is increasingly found in counterfeit pills, cocaine, and other illicit substances, sometimes leading to overdoses in unsuspecting users. It has also replaced heroin in many areas of the country.

The recent agreement between Presidents Biden and Xi is seen as significant progress, but experts stress that addressing the fentanyl overdose issue requires cooperation not only between China and the U.S. but also from other countries. Efforts to combat the crisis include the wider availability of naloxone, drug screening kits, and harm reduction strategies.

In conclusion, while China’s agreement with the U.S. represents a positive step towards reducing the flow of fentanyl, experts caution that it is just one part of a complex issue that demands continued efforts on multiple fronts to combat the overdose crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Fentanyl Agreement

What is the recent agreement between China and the U.S. regarding fentanyl?

The recent agreement between China and the U.S. involves China curtail shipments of materials used to produce fentanyl to Latin America and other regions, as well as resuming information sharing about suspected trafficking.

Will this agreement completely solve the fentanyl overdose crisis in the U.S.?

While the agreement is a positive step, it may not completely solve the fentanyl overdose crisis in the U.S. Experts suggest that reducing fentanyl production alone may not address the broader issue, as drug suppliers may switch to other potentially more lethal substances.

What caused the rise of fentanyl in the United States?

Fentanyl became a widespread problem in the U.S. about a decade ago, partly due to crackdowns on opioid painkiller prescriptions. It was initially shipped from China due to its potency and ease of concealment.

What are the concerns regarding the recent agreement?

Some concerns include the timeline for the agreement’s impact, the possibility of drug suppliers shifting to other dangerous substances, and the lack of agreements on addressing money laundering related to drug trafficking through China.

What other measures are being taken to combat the fentanyl overdose crisis?

Efforts include wider availability of naloxone (an overdose-reversing drug), drug screening kits, and harm reduction strategies. Additionally, international cooperation from other countries is considered crucial to addressing the crisis comprehensively.

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