U.S. drug enforcement officials are calling the Chinese government's decision to list the deadly opioid carfentanil as a controlled substance a game-changer in the fight against drugs. But with U.S. demand for opioids extremely high, it is likely that carfentanil won't be the last threat to infiltrate the opioid-using population's supply.
China will add carfentanil and three related but less potent opioids as controlled substances as of March 1. U.S. officials have blamed an influx of carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, from Chinese suppliers for a surge in opioid overdoses and deaths.
“It's a substantial step in the fight against opioids here in the United States,” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent Russell Baer said in an Associated Press article. “We're persuaded it will have a definite impact.”
Although Chinese officials have disputed that the country serves as the primary source of carfentanil and fentanyl, they moved quickly to classify carfentanil as a controlled substance. An evaluation process that usually extends for nine months was completed in four months, according to news reports.