China To Include Carfentanil, Fentanyl Analogues To List of Controlled Substances

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China To Include Carfentanil, Fentanyl Analogues To List of Controlled Substances

In response to urging from Washington, China has recently initiated measures intended to reduce the flow of synthetic drugs into the U.S. This includes the addition of four deadly, heroin-like substances to the list of controlled drugs.

This decision was made on the heels of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator Chuck Rosenberg’s visit to China in January, in which stricter controls on drug analogs were reportedly discussed.

One of the new controlled substances includes carfentanil, a drug used to sedate large animals such as elephants. The drug is up to 10,000 more potent than morphine, and even minor skin contact is enough to send someone into an overdose. Veterinarians who handle the drug often wear protective face masks and gloves to prevent such an occurrence.

Carfentanil is a chemical cousin of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, another sedating drug used on humans for anesthesia during surgery, itself up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Both fentanyl and carfentanil are now frequently found mixed with heroin, often unknown to the user, and garnering deadly results.

In addition to carfentanil, China says it will also control three other analogs: furanyl fentanyl, acryl fentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl.

The decision was reported on Thursday and confirmed by an official at China’s National Narcotics Control Commission. The new regulation will go into effect on March 1, and the DEA has since praised China’s new action.

The move is intended to close a loophole, so to speak. Fentanyl has been considered a controlled substance in China for some time, but closely related analogs of the drug have been less tightly regulated and easy to export.

Unlike other drugs such as methamphetamine, fentanyl, and related compounds haven’t gained the traction in the country that they have in the U.S. This has left officials in the U.S. with the daunting task of convincing China why this problem, occurring thousands of miles away, is an important matter to address.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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