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Rand – Evolution of the U.S. Overdose Crisis

Understanding China’s Role in the Production and Supply of Synthetic Opioids by Bryce Pardo: Testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on September 6, 2018. [h/t Mary Whisner]

“The introduction of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids to U.S. drug markets presents new challenges for contemporary drug policy: The potency of many synthetic opioids increases risk to users and poses challenges for first responders, the development of novel opioids that fall outside existing drug controls complicates regulatory efforts, and their ability to be produced and shipped with ease disrupts traditional supply chains. Today, I will briefly describe our country’s ongoing opioid overdose crisis. Understanding recent developments and the shifting supply of opioids is critical to policy design. I will then describe the emergence of synthetic opioids, which have complicated many of our drug policy efforts. Given the topic of this hearing, I focus most of my testimony on China’s role as a source of synthetic psychoactives and chemical precursors, describing what we know about the manufacture and export of potent opioids, such as fentanyl, to the United States. Although most of these substances appear to come from China, many dimensions of this problem remain unclear. That said, China’s export-led economic strategy and lack of regulatory oversight have created favorable conditions for the production and exportation of synthetic opioids and related chemicals. I conclude with some policy options going forward, aimed at the new challenges posed by these substances…”

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