See More on Facebook

Culture and society

US hails China’s crackdown on fentanyl

The US say that fentanyl from China is contributing to a public health crisis.


Written by

Updated: April 5, 2019

Investigators in a small Maryland city about 70 miles northwest of Washington recently seized 2 kilograms of fentanyl-enough to kill about 1 million people.

The drug, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, is legally prescribed to treat patients with chronic pain, especially after surgery.

But someone with a basic knowledge of chemistry could synthesize the drug using legally obtained ingredients, mix it with other illegal drugs or even harmless powder, and turn a quick profit. Criminals also slightly alter the chemical composition of the drug to evade the law.

As a prescription drug, fentanyl is marketed under names such as Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze.

The case in Hagerstown, Maryland, underscores United States law enforcement’s continuing battle against the deadly drug and highlights the need for international cooperation in eradicating it at the source.

In Beijing, Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, said on Monday that China would begin regulating all fentanyl-related drugs as a class of controlled substances.

“We firmly believe that listing the entire class of fentanyl substances will completely block the loopholes that enable lawbreakers to evade punishment by simply modifying one or several atoms,” Liu said. “It will effectively prevent the massive abuse of fentanyl substances and illegal drug trafficking.”

The US Drug Enforcement Administration supported China’s action.

“The DEA is pleased with China’s announcement to control fentanyl as a class, effective May 1, 2019,” Mary Brandenberger, a spokeswoman for the federal agency in Washington, told China Daily.

The New York Times quoted her as saying “We look forward to our continued collaboration with China to reduce the amount of this deadly poison coming into our country”.

China’s action is a needed step in combating fentanyl use, but it won’t end the scourge.

Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Bryce Pardo and Peter Reuter noted: “Even if China were successfully to crack down on fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, it would not fix America’s opioid problem. Any decrease in Chinese fentanyl production will be offset by a shift in production to one of many other nations with an entrepreneurial, lightly regulated chemical industry that has good connections to the US.

“India is an obvious candidate. Washington should continue to cooperate with China on drug control, but as long as US drug users demand illicit opioids, entrepreneurial chemists around the world will find a way to supply them,” wrote Pardo, an associate policy researcher at RAND Corp, and Reuter, a senior economist at RAND and a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and Department of Criminology.

In 2017, the most recent year with complete statistics, 59 percent of opioid-related deaths in the US involved fentanyl, up from 14.3 percent in 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported.

In 2016, about 63,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, including about 20,000 caused by fentanyl or other synthetic opioids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Unlike heroin or cocaine, getting the illegal version of fentanyl into the US does not require an extensive distribution network requiring payoffs or bribes because it’s simply dropped in the mail.

In 2017, the US Postal Service handled 498 million international packages, up from about 275 million the year earlier. It lacks the personnel, equipment and funding to screen incoming packages.

Only about 36 percent of incoming packages have tracking data, making it difficult for US Customs and Border Protection to track down those sending illegal drugs into the US and making it all but certain fentanyl shipments are undetected.

Six individuals charged in the Maryland case, including two still at large, each face mandatory minimum sentences of decades in prison, if convicted, for engaging in a conspiracy to distribute the drug.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: ANN’s Board member Ms Esther Ng, Malaysia’s The Star’s Chief Content Officer, has been bestowed the 2019 Asian Women Entrepreneurs Leadership Award in the Media and Communications category.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

Indonesia slams Singapore for withholding information on nationals treated for COVID-19

Indonesia complains on Singapore insisting to withhold personal information of its citizens showing COVID-19 symptoms in Jakarta. The Indonesian government has complained that Singapore insists on withholding the personal information of several Indonesian citizens believed to have shown COVID-19 symptoms in Jakarta and tested positive for the lethal virus in the city-state. Jakarta said it was facing difficulties in tracing and isolating those who might have had contact with the patients, now being treated at Singaporean hospitals. “We have asked for the identities of the Indonesian nationals from Singapore. They did not give us the names. How are we going to conduct the tracing in Indonesia? Singapore is adamant on not disclosing their identities,”


By The Jakarta Post
March 13, 2020

Culture and society

Seoul stocks sink, trigger first circuit breaker for 5 min in 8 years 

The Kospi plummeted more than 5 per cent during Thursday trading, which triggered the stock exchange to temporarily halt trading on Korea’s main bourse, as investor sentiments weighed on the coronavirus pandemic. The Korea Exchange activated a “sidecar,” meaning it temporarily halted the trading of shares, for five minutes around 1:04 p.m. after Kospi 200 index futures slipped over 5 percent. It was the first time the sidecar had been activated for the Kospi since Oct. 4, 2011, when Greece defaulted on its debts. “The temporarily halt trading was due to the plunging of the Kospi 200 index futures. They plummeted from 256.90 points to 243.90 points — down 13 points, or 5.06 percent at that time for over a minute,” a KRX official said. The s


By Asia News Network
March 12, 2020

Culture and society

Final temporary hospital in Wuhan closes its doors

A total of 15 such hospitals, converted from exhibition halls, sports stadiums and warehouses, received more than 12,000 patients. All the 15 temporary hospitals built to exclusively receive novel coronavirus patients in Wuhan, Hubei province, have been closed, with the daily number of reported new cases hitting a record low. Wuchang Temporary Hospital, which was converted from a sports stadium, closed on Tuesday afternoon after its final 49 patients were discharged, making it the last of the temporary hospitals in Wuhan, the centre of the epidemic in China, to close its doors. The hospital, which was converted within two days, received a total of 1,124 patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 in the 35 days of its operation. No patients died in the hosp


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Culture and society

Social media curbs removed in Jammu and Kashmir after seven months

 Jammu and Kashmir administration removes restrictions on social media use across Union Territory almost seven months after a communication clampdown since the Centre’s announcement to scrap the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 and its bifurcation into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration on Wednesday removed restrictions from social media usage across the Union Territory almost seven months after a communication clampdown on the eve of the Centre’s August 5 announcement to scrap the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 and its bifurcation. The directions came after a review of the situation by the J&K Home department. The order, issued without the


By The Island
March 10, 2020

Culture and society

15 Korean pharmas, 4 state institutes research coronavirus

South Korea’s state-run research institutes and pharmaceutical firms are working hard to find a cure for the new coronavirus. South Korea’s state-run research institutes and pharmaceutical firms are working hard to find a cure for the new coronavirus, according to news reports Monday. Around 15 firms and four institutes here are burning the midnight oil to get an effective cure, according to Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association. KPBMA Chairman Won Hee-mok emphasized the synergies between private and public research bodies in yielding a faster outcome. The association identified Korean companies working on vaccines — including SK Bioscience, GC Pharma, Boryung Biopharma, Sumagen and G+FLAS Life Sciences. T


By Asia News Network
March 9, 2020

Culture and society

‘Incredible India’ now being viewed as intolerant India, says FM Qureshi

 “Modi’s policies are taking a bloody and dangerous turn,” says the foreign minister. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday stated that ‘Incredible India’ is now being viewed as “intolerant India”, and ‘Shining India’ as “burning India”, adding that the country is now facing international scrutiny like never before. The foreign minister expressed these views while speaking at a seminar, organised by the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies, in Islamabad. During his address, Qureshi stated: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies are taking a bloody and dangerous turn, as predicted by Prime Minister Imran Khan.” Referring to the country


By Asia News Network
March 6, 2020