THE FENTANYL FIX Could blocking illegal fentanyl from China solve the B.C. opioid crisis?

published on January 30, 2017 by Maryse Zeidler in CBC News

UN specialist on synthetic drugs says past diplomatic efforts were useful, but current crisis is more complex

It weighed only 1.45 kilograms, but the international parcel destined for Victoria could have killed 725,000 people.

The package contained the potent street drug fentanyl and it was just one of many similar shipments intercepted by police across Canada.

Authorities said it came from China, a country labelled by experts worldwide as the leading culprit in fentanyl manufacturing and export.

“There have been [federal] efforts opened up with China as a source country to deal with fentanyl,” said Clayton Pecknold, B.C. director of police services ,

“I’d like to see continued diplomatic efforts, frankly, to support our efforts here in B.C. I’m hoping that will result in some reduction in the supply.”

So could curbing illegal exports of synthetic opioids solve the fentanyl crisis in British Columbia?

Why China is in the lead

But first, let’s take a quick look at why China is ground zero for fentanyl exports.

Nicholas Li, assistant professor of economics at the University of Toronto, says there are three contributing factors.

The first is that China already supplies legal sources of fentanyl to countries like Canada “” although it only supplies about one per cent of Canada’s $1.4 billion pharmaceutical imports.

What’s more likely the issue, according to Li, is the fragmented structure of China’s pharmaceutical market, which is made up of thousands of small companies.

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