China can help US over­come its opi­oid cri­sis

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

THERE is enough rea­son to wel­come the con­sen­sus Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and his US coun­ter­part Don­ald Trump reached on the con­trol of fen­tanyl in their meet­ing in Ar­gentina over the week­end. But it would be to­tally wrong to con­clude from the agree­ment that China is to blame for the abuse of opi­oids in the US.

On the one hand, with the in­creas­ingly wi­den­ing gap be­tween the haves and have- nots in the US, an in­creas­ing num­ber of poor peo­ple turn to opi­oids, in­clud­ing syn­thetic ones, to es­cape the harsh re­al­ity of their lives.

On the other hand, the abuse of syn­thetic opi­oids such as fen­tanyl has a lot to do with some US phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms, which man­u­fac­ture and sell fen­tanyl-con­tain­ing drugs as painkillers.

As a re­sult, many peo­ple get ad­dicted to such pre­scrip­tion opi­oids and some die from an over­dose.

China has long ex­erted strict con­trol over the pro­duc­tion and sale of fen­tanyl sub­stances. While there is no know­ing whether there are any crim­i­nal gangs man­u­fac­tur­ing fen­tanyl sub­stances and smug­gling them into the US, there are only five li­censed phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­ture fen­tanyl sub­stances and re­lated prepa­ra­tions. Their to­tal out­put was 24.26 kg last year, none of which has been found to have fallen into il­le­gal chan­nels.

All told, China has al­ready put 25 vari­ants of fen­tanyl, plus two pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals used to make the drug on its list of con­trolled sub­stances. Now, the For­eign Min­istry says that all fen­tanyl-like sub­stances will be listed as con­trolled sub­stances as the gov­ern­ment starts work­ing to ad­just re­lated reg­u­la­tions. This will pre­vent any chem­i­cal vari­ants of fen­tanyl be­ing pro­duced faster than reg­u­la­tors can de­clare them il­le­gal.

The au­thor­i­ties will also fur­ther tighten their con­trol on the man­u­fac­tur­ing and sale of fen­tanyl sub­stances and strengthen their ef­forts to pre­vent any il­le­gal man­u­fac­tur­ing and smug­gling.

But it is im­per­a­tive the US do what it can to fight its opi­oid cri­sis, in­stead of just pass­ing the buck to China.

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