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US fentanyl claim a 'distortion of facts'

By Zhang Yi | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-05 09:12
Small vials of fentanyl are shown in the inpatient pharmacy at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. [Photo/IC]

Country has only itself to blame for its opioid abuse crisis, senior official says

The United States' accusation that many US citizens have died because China failed to prevent fentanyl from entering the country is not true, a senior Chinese anti-drug official said on Saturday.

"It is true that the US has a high death rate from the proliferation of fentanyl-related substances, but the US has only itself to blame for the fentanyl abuse crisis and China is not the main source of fentanyl in the country," Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, China's leading drug enforcement body, said in an interview with China Central Television.

"It is a complete distortion of facts and is totally unacceptable to the Chinese people."

US President Donald Trump recently claimed China had not fulfilled its promise to stop sales of fentanyl to the US, resulting in many deaths from drug abuse.

Substances related to fentanyl, a potent opioid painkiller, were approved for medical use in the US in 1968. In recent years, a large number of US citizens have died from fentanyl-related substance abuse.

China strictly controls fentanyl-like substances, and, from the start of May, 25 fentanyl analogues were put on China's list of controlled substances, more than the 21 on the US list.

"The control of fentanyl in China is long-term, covering all kinds of fentanyl substances," Liu said. "In contrast, the regulation in the US is temporary and not as complete."

The international community, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration, commended China's move, he said, and Trump had also praised the measure on several occasions.

Since the control took effect, China had made unprecedented efforts in addressing the fentanyl issue in terms of issuing laws and regulations, conducting an overall market inspection, and stepping up police investigation.

According to data provided by the US DEA, only four cases of fentanyl trafficking from China were reported by US Customs and Border Protection in the second quarter of this year, Liu said.

"This indicates that the measures we have taken have shown great results," he said. "However, deaths caused by fentanyl abuse in the US remain high. Thus it is impossible for China to be a major source of fentanyl in the US.

"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to drug control and maintained a zero-tolerance attitude toward drugs.

"It will keep its promise to strictly control substances related to fentanyl and promote global drug control."

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