BBC | May 19, 2023
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, is now the main driver of drug overdose deaths in America. The US Drug Enforcement Administration says 67% of the 107,375 US deaths from drug overdoses or poisonings in 2021 were linked to fentanyl or similar opioids. US authorities blame Mexican drug gangs for supplying fentanyl to users across the US. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his country has proof that illegal shipments of the powerful opioid drug fentanyl are arriving from China; while China’s foreign ministry has denied that there is illegal trafficking of fentanyl between China and Mexico. The US government is deploying law enforcement to crack down on fentanyl dealers and also taking steps to prevent and treat substance use and the harms it produces. But why is it still struggling to contain the fentanyl epidemic? Would stronger US cooperation with Chinese and Mexican authorities make a difference? What should President Joe Biden’s administration do going forward to tackle the fentanyl crisis?