China’s Pact to Reduce Fentanyl Exports to US Unlikely to Resolve Overdose Crisis

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to take steps to reduce the flow of the deadly opioid fentanyl into the US. 

While experts believe this move is a positive step, they caution that it alone will not be sufficient to address the record-high overdose crisis claiming American lives.

China has instructed its chemical companies to limit shipments of fentanyl precursor materials to Latin America and other regions. This practice contributes to the opioid production in Mexico before being smuggled into the US. 

Additionally, China has resumed sharing information about suspected trafficking with an international database, marking a cooperative effort to combat the opioid crisis.

Adam Wandt, an associate professor of public policy, views this development as a necessary diplomatic option, acknowledging its potential to reduce the amount of fentanyl in the U.S. However, he warns that even if fentanyl production decreases, cartels may shift to other, potentially more lethal drugs.

Kevin Roy, Chief Public Policy Officer at Shatterproof, a national organization combating addiction and overdose, emphasizes the importance of implementing the announced measures and highlights the need for broader actions to combat money laundering through China, a critical issue in the drug trade.

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US-China Agreement on Fentanyl

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to take steps to reduce the flow of the deadly opioid fentanyl into the US.

The directive issued by China’s National Narcotics Control Commission calls on businesses to be cautious about orders from the US and Mexico, emphasizing the risk of getting entangled in law enforcement actions abroad. The Biden administration lifted trade sanctions against the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science as part of the agreement.

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has been a significant contributor to the escalating overdose crisis in the US. 

In recent years, synthetic opioids have become the leading cause of drug-related deaths, with over 100,000 deaths reported in 2022, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the US-China agreement is a positive step, experts stress it is only one piece of a more giant puzzle. Cooperation from other countries is essential, and addressing issues like money laundering remains a critical aspect of combating the fentanyl epidemic.

The rise of fentanyl has prompted efforts in the US to increase the availability of overdose-reversal drug naloxone, drug screening kits, and harm reduction practices.

As both nations work towards curbing the fentanyl supply, the focus on prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction within the US remains crucial to making lasting progress in mitigating the devastating impact of the opioid crisis.

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