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U.S.-China Agreement Aims to Stem the Flow of Deadly Opioids

More than 82,000 people were reported to have fallen victim to opioid-involved overdose deaths over a 12-month period ending in the United States in December 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is compared to 21,089 opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2007. Overdose deaths have skyrocketed due to the availability of fentanyl in North America, an incredibly potent synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin. Fentanyl can be deadly in very small doses.

United States President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi JinPing made history as they met to discuss a wide variety of issues on Wednesday, November 15 in California. The leaders announced on Wednesday that China will tell its chemical companies to significantly reduce shipments to Latin America and elsewhere around the world of the materials used to produce fentanyl. As a rule, the powerful opioid is finished as a product in Mexico and then smuggled to the U.S.

China also agreed to resume sharing information about suspected drug trafficking with a global database. The diplomatic victory will not end the opioid epidemic over night, but it could go a long way in reducing the tragic death toll. More Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2022 than U.S. soldier died over the course of the entire Vietnam war.

Policymakers are aware of the devastating impact this drug epidemic is having on families and communities across the U.S. This meeting gives lawmakers a shot to make a positive difference in this ongoing struggle.