China is adding the deadly elephant tranquilliser carfentanil and three related synthetic opioids to its list of controlled substances from the start of next month, China’s National Narcotics Control Commission said on Thursday.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration called the move a potential “game-changer” that is likely to reduce supply of key chemicals driving a surge of overdoses and deaths among unsuspecting drug users in North America. After China controlled 116 synthetic drugs in October 2015, seizures in the United States of compounds on that list plunged.
“It’s a substantial step in the fight against opioids here in the United States,” said Russell Baer, a drug agency special agent in Washington. “We’re persuaded it will have a definite impact.”
Some 5,000 times stronger than heroin, carfentanil is so potent it has been used as a weapon and is considered a potential terrorism threat. Dealers cut fentanyls into heroin and other drugs to boost profit margins.