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US opioid crisis: New government report finds Mexico is dominant source of fentanyl trafficked into US

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In its report, the federal Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking — a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, specialists and officers from federal departments and businesses — warns that if the US does nothing to alter its response to the brand new challenges, more American lives shall be misplaced.

“This is one of our most-pressing national security, law enforcement, and public health challenges, and we must do more as a nation and a government to protect our most precious resource ― American lives,” mentioned Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Democratic Rep. David Trone of Maryland, the fee’s co-chairs, in a letter included within the report.

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From June 2020 to May 2021, fentanyl and artificial opioids accounted for roughly two-thirds of the greater than 100,000 deaths within the US from drug overdoses, the report discovered. The fatalities have been principally amongst Americans ages 18 to 45.

Fentanyl, a sort of artificial opioid, has been the “primary driver” of the US opioid epidemic and is 50 occasions stronger than heroin, based on the report. It discovered that whereas 70% to 80% of fentanyl that federal authorities seized between roughly 2014 to 2019 had come from China, Mexico is now the “dominant source” of fentanyl within the US.

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Fentanyl is trafficked principally by land throughout the US’ southern border with Mexico, although cartels have additionally elevated use of the US Postal Service, the report mentioned.

The fee famous that artificial opioids are prevalent in unlawful, long-standing heroin markets, suggesting that “cheaper” and “more-potent” artificial opioids are changing different historically misused opioids.

Fentanyl, moreover being laced in heroin, is additionally manufactured into counterfeit tablets, together with model names reminiscent of Adderall and Xanax, in “minute” portions, which the report known as “particularly troubling.” “Of deepest concern is that most consumers are not — at least initially — seeking fentanyl specifically,” the report mentioned.

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Without intervention, the US “will continue to see the number of overdoses rise as markets for illicit drugs evolve, respond, and produce an even wider variety of synthetic opioids, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) diversify the presence of synthetic opioids in nonopioid drugs and into pills to expand the market beyond traditional opioid users,” the report warned.

Call for Cabinet-level position

The fee made a number of suggestions for the US to stem the circulation of artificial opioids into the nation and cut back overdoses, together with strengthening coverage coordination, disrupting drug provide, growing worldwide cooperation, enhancing analysis and information assortment, and establishing methods to scale back demand, like increasing entry to therapies..

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As half of beneficial coverage modifications, it known as for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to be the “central authority for policymaking and interagency coordination on all drug control policy matters” and its director to be returned to a Cabinet-level position.

To disrupt drug provide, the fee beneficial enhancing oversight and enforcement, reminiscent of providing federal grants to native regulation enforcement to swiftly examine overdose deaths or having federal regulation enforcement companion with US social media firms to establish distributors of artificial opioids and chemical substances.

To goal producers and distributors, the fee beneficial the US collaborate with different nations concerned in producing and distributing artificial opioids, and it steered the US set up a coverage framework to have interaction with China in an effort to enhance oversight of its pharmaceutical trade and push the nation to “adopt clear rules.”

The fee additionally desires the US to bolster information evaluation and surveillance techniques to detect modifications and developments within the drug market and higher reply to the disaster, together with growing a nationwide early warning system and a community of wastewater testing.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a nationwide public well being emergency and later signed a sweeping annual protection invoice that established the fee and charged it with growing methods to combat the flood of artificial opioids into the US.
President Joe Biden, on the finish of final 12 months, declared a nationwide emergency to cope with worldwide drug trafficking, together with the rise in fentanyl and artificial opioids, together with ordering sanctions towards overseas drug traffickers.

The problem has solely grown within the US, with the Covid-19 pandemic having pushed will increase in substance use. At the peak of the pandemic, greater than 1 in 10 Americans began or elevated their substance use, creating larger demand for fentanyl, the report mentioned.

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