Context: The US President and the Chinese President, during their meeting in California, agreed that China would crack down on the production of ingredients for fentanyl, which is responsible for a deadly epidemic of opioid abuse in the U.S.
- Fentanyl is one of a class of many drugs known as opioids, which are used for pain relief. They can also be addictive.
- The key way in which fentanyl differs from more familiar opioids, like morphine, codeine, or even heroin, is potency.
- Potency refers only to the amount of a substance needed to produce a certain effect.
- Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine.
- This means that if 10 mg of morphine is needed to produce pain relief, only one tenth of 1 mg of fentanyl (0.1 mg) is needed to produce the same effect.
- Few people have access to a scale sensitive enough to accurately measure amounts that small.
- Fentanyl can be so dangerous because small miscalculations in dose can result in a fatal overdose.
- Potency aside, fentanyl is not necessarily more dangerous than other opioids.
- Something many people do not realize is that fentanyl is used safely as part of routine medical procedures every day but it is administered by trained professionals who can accurately administer the correct amount.
Addiction Story of USA
- Fentanyl is not a new drug, which raises the question of why we are seeing record overdose deaths now.
- The first wave began with prescription pills like Oxycontin.
- The second wave began around 2010, when prescription opioids became much harder to obtain and more expensive.
- Because of which Opioid users switched to heroin, which provides the same effect, but was much cheaper.
- Now in USA we are in the third wave, with fentanyl substituting for heroin.
- In recent years it has become much cheaper to produce illicit fentanyl than heroin for various reasons.
Supply of Fentanyl to USA
- China is the number one supplier of fentanyl to the United States.
- China is also the main supplier to Canada and Mexico.
- Cartels in the latter usually then smuggle it into the United States.