Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said China has been an “incredible partner” for the U.S. in combating the international trade of the synthetic opioids responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.
Price thanked Chinese officials for their help during a visit to the country Monday, claiming China has been quick to react to the innovations of new synthetic opioids that American agencies deem dangerous, the Associated Press reported Monday. China complied with a U.S. request to ban four synthetic drugs last month, including a new alternative to fentanyl, one of the most lethalopioids on the market.
Banning new drugs is essential to combating opioids due to the high rate of innovation in the industry, according to Price.
The main issue comes from the “rapidly-changing ability of individuals to formulate new chemical makeups that are a different drug and that aren’t in the controlled arena,” Price said. “The challenge is to get those taken care of much more rapidly. And so that’s the conversations that we need to be having.”
Republicans in the House of Representatives tried in July to give Attorney General Jeff Sessions the authority to quickly update the federal list of illegal drugs, but both conservative and liberal groups quickly wrote and lobbied to shut down the legislation. The groups argued that the justice system is not suited to prosecute a war on drugs and it could only be effective if it focused on lowering sentences for drug crimes and providing more funding for prison alternatives like treatment programs.
“Harsh penalties do not deter people with substance use disorders from using drugs. People use drugs because they have a chemical dependence and often feel that they will not be caught,” a letter signed by four conservative groups read. “Believing that harsh penalties will deter drug use misunderstands addiction. Since the 1980s, we have had tough penalties for heroin use and distribution, yet heroin consumption has actually increased.”
China doesn’t share the attorney general’s inability to ban drugs, but it’s still the number one source for synthetic opioids purchased in the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The U.S., however, is grateful for any help it can get in fighting the opioid crisis. The country suffered between 59,000 and 65,000 drug deaths in 2016, according to state health departments.[contentcards url=”http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/21/china-is-an-incredible-partner-in-opioid-crisis-us-health-official-says/” target=”_blank”]
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