War on drugs: China decides to ban U4, other deadly synthetic opioids bothering US
Breaking News Jun 20, 2017
War on drugs: China decides to ban U4, other deadly synthetic opioids bothering US

The United States is in the midst of the opioid epidemic causing thousands of overdose deaths every year. Often accused of going easy on illegal drug traffickers, China has seemingly surrendered to the constant pressure from the U.S. to regulate synthetic drugs by banning lethal designer drug U-47700 and three other synthetic drugs. The move may forge a deeper relationship between the two countries and intensify action against the widespread use of drugs.

Deng Ming, deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), has declared to include U-47700 and the other three drugs – MT-45, PMMA and 4,4′-DMAR – in the country’s list of controlled substances with effect from July 1, 2017. The decision was announced during the National Antidrug Committee briefing on June 19, 2017. U-47700 is currently a legal substitute for fentanyl and carfentanil, a fentanyl derivative.

Drug control measures by China

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) included U-47700 in its list of most dangerous drugs last year, blaming it for a large number of deaths, mostly in New York and North Carolina. It is known by common street names such as Pink, Pinky or U4.

A synthetic opioid, U-47700 is a fast proliferating drug in the U.S., killing thousands of people. In 2015 alone, more than 9,580 people died due to synthetic opioids other than methadone representing nearly one-fifth of the total drug overdose deaths. China has often refuted the allegation of being the supplier of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Despite being the homeland of proliferating drug trade, the two countries have widened collaboration efforts to exercise greater control.

Unscrupulous people modify the chemical structures of controlled substances to escape the law and market these dangerous opioids under the garb of psychoactive substances. These substances are available in the market as “legal highs,” “bath salts,” “research chemicals” or “designer drugs.” Gullible users, not knowing the actual content of these drugs, often overdose and endanger their lives.

Justin Schoeman, Beijing-based country attaché for the DEA, said that when restrictions are imposed on a  fentanyl-classed substance by China, it impacts seizures and accessibility of drugs in the U.S., which can ultimately help save lives of many. He also reiterated that China’s banning of additional substances would mean both the countries can carry joint operations against the proliferation of these chemicals, including the tracking of packages from the source to the recipients in the U.S.

Yu Haibin, a division director at the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security in China, has also said that Chinese authorities have established a system that can transfer information on new varieties of drugs received from police investigations, customs clearances and medical treatment directly to the national drug lab. The information will then be evaluated by the expert committee and accordingly steps can be taken. He also revealed that the authorities are making real-name registration mandatory and conducting X-rays of packages being shipped to high-risk areas in order to prevent drugs from being dispatched by post or express delivery service. This might bring a breakthrough to control malpractices.

Dealing with addiction

Today, the nation is struggling to curb the menace that has broken many homes. Although federal authorities are doing their bit, there is much more to be done at the root level. It calls for a collective effort from all stakeholders to wipe out the epidemic from the country. Those already addicted to drugs should seek treatment immediately before matters go out of hand.

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