China has announced that it will add four synthetic opioids to its list of controlled substances in that country, effective July 1, 2017. This is good news for the United States and other Western countries for whom the main source of such imported opioids in considered to be China, sometimes directly from that country, sometimes via South American or Canada.
China’s deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, Deng Ming, said that four synthetic opioids, U-47700; MT-45: PMMA: and 4,4′-DMAR would be added to that country’s controlled substances list in an ongoing deepening of cooperation between the United States and China. Evidence of this cooperative spirit was demonstrated earlier this year when China added carfentil, acryl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl and valeryl fentanyl to its controlled substances list on March 1, 2017.
Although Chinese officials doubt the veracity of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s assertion that China is the leading source of synthetic opioids, past history shows that when China added 116 synthetic drugs to its controlled substance list in 2015, there was then a significant decrease in those drugs in the U.S. After the July 1 addition of the additional four synthetic opioids, China will have restricted a total of 138 such drugs.
One of the difficulties for Chinese officials is that chemists are constantly creating new formulas to make the synthetic opioids, making them available to drug dealers the world over before authorities become aware of the new compounds and then place them on the controlled substance list. Yu Haibin, a division director of China’s Ministry of Public Security’s Narcotics Control Bureau explained the dilemma faced by his agency:
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“My feeling is that it’s just like a race and I will never catch up with the criminals. Actually, we just want to make a breakthrough in dealing with this.”