Experts have revealed that in 2017, 28,000 overdose deaths in the U.S were related to the use of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and continues to be a frightening menace in the opioid crisis in the country.
Fentanyl boasts of a rather large level of popularity, but not the best reputation at this point, with constant regulation and awareness being raised by law enforcement and governments alike to put a stop to its illegal distribution and use.
Particularly distributed over the internet on dark web marketplaces, these lethal opioid is attributed to over 20,000 deaths by overdose in the U.S alone in 2016. With statistics based on a research paper authored by Jacob N. Miller in The War on Drugs 2.0: Darknet Fentanyl’s Rise and the Effects of Regulatory and Law Enforcement, it states that the fight against fentanyl has become much more difficult because with increased demand has come extremely cheap supply adding that from 2014 to 2016, fentanyl prices were considerably priced lower than even heroin, selling at an estimated 90% discount.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that in 2017, close to 30,000 overdose deaths were due to fentanyl and other related synthetic opioids, growing from the previously recorded 20,000 deaths a year before.
Over the course of the last 5 years, governmental agencies and law enforcement have joined the fight against the fentanyl crisis, instituting stricter prosecution and legal action to serve as deterrents to would-be fentanyl dealers. Not much appears to have come from these actions though, seeing as mass fentanyl production is legal and thriving in China and provides a cheap market for dealers and users on darknet markets in the USA.
What is most concerning about this crisis is how fatal the abuse of this drug is, and yet how readily available it is, despite regulation of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the US. Miller says,
By 2016 a lethal dose of fentanyl on the dark web had fallen to under $2.50, and with bulk pricing a lethal dose cost approximately $1.00.
As part of one of the major tenets of President Trump’s governance, some progress has been made with the Chinese Government as regards its contribution to the sale and distribution of fentanyl in the US, with the country announcing that they have initiated legislation to ensure that there is existing policy that controls the production of these narcotics, including over 1,400 synthetic opioids similar in structure to fentanyl which is expected to curb the production and thus, the supply to the US.
This however has been met with skepticism from US, with state officials and narcotics experts stressing that the new policy has generated nochange at all in the drug’s sphere alluding that this is in relation with the ongoing trade war between the two states. Some believe that until some resolve is reached in that regard, there is no assurance at all that China will make any realeffort to regulate production like they have said in the past.
National Drug Control Policy officials in the White House in August stated that presently leadership has not
directly seen any large-scale seizures or law enforcement action by the Chinese on Fentanyl. Too many Americans do continue to die from these deadly drugs, most of which come from China”
adding, “We’ll continue to press China to follow through on the promise they made to keep fentanyl out of our communities”
Beyond legislation, investigation and apprehension of opioid dealers based in the U.S, not much impact will be achieved until there is some control and regulation of the sources of supply worldwide.