US opioid disaster: New authorities report finds Mexico is dominant supply of fentanyl trafficked into US

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In its report, the federal Fee on Combating Artificial Opioid Trafficking — a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, consultants and officers from federal departments and businesses — warns that if the US does nothing to alter its response to the brand new challenges, extra American lives will probably be misplaced.

“That is one among our most-pressing nationwide safety, legislation enforcement, and public well being challenges, and we should do extra as a nation and a authorities to guard our most valuable useful 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.

From June 2020 to Might 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 had been largely amongst People ages 18 to 45.

Fentanyl, a kind of artificial opioid, has been the “main driver” of the US opioid epidemic and is 50 instances stronger than heroin, in keeping with 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 supply” of fentanyl within the US.

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, can also be manufactured into counterfeit tablets, together with model names similar to Adderall and Xanax, in “minute” portions, which the report referred to as “notably troubling.” “Of deepest concern is that the majority customers will not be — no less than initially — looking for fentanyl particularly,” the report mentioned.

With out intervention, the US “will proceed to see the variety of overdoses rise as markets for illicit medication evolve, reply, and produce an excellent wider number of artificial opioids, and transnational felony organizations (TCOs) diversify the presence of artificial opioids in nonopioid medication and into drugs to develop the market past conventional opioid customers,” the report warned.

Name for Cupboard-level function

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

As a part of beneficial coverage modifications, it referred to as for the White Home Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage to be the “central authority for policymaking and interagency coordination on all drug management coverage issues” and its director to be returned to a Cupboard-level function.

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

To focus on producers and distributors, the fee beneficial the US collaborate with different international locations concerned in producing and distributing artificial opioids, and it urged the US set up a coverage framework to have interaction with China so as to enhance oversight of its pharmaceutical trade and push the nation to “undertake clear guidelines.”

The fee additionally desires the US to bolster knowledge evaluation and surveillance techniques to detect modifications and traits within the drug market and higher reply to the disaster, together with creating 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 creating methods to combat the flood of artificial opioids into the US.
President Joe Biden, on the finish of final yr, declared a nationwide emergency to cope with worldwide drug trafficking, together with the rise in fentanyl and artificial opioids, together with ordering sanctions towards international drug traffickers.

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

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