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China willing to try and help US overcome its opioid crisis: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-12-05 20:04
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There is enough reason to welcome the consensus 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 United States.

Fentanyl is said to be 100 times more powerful than morphine, and even 30-50 times more potent than heroin, and its abuse has become a serious social problem in the US. More than 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US last year, with fentanyl responsible for more than 29,000 of them, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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 companies, 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 kilograms in 2017, 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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