In 2023, more than 100,000 people died from overdoses in the United States for the first time in one year. (Photo: Reproduction)
The first joint meeting of a U.S.Chinese working group on fentanyl precursor chemicals will be held in Beijing on Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday.
Fentanyl is a leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States. The US has alleged that China is the main source of the chemical precursors synthesized into fentanyl by drug cartels in Mexico. China denies it.
In 2023, more than 100,000 people died from overdoses in the United States in one year for the first time.
More than 66% of those deaths were linked to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is a medicine that can be prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain.
However, the drug is also manufactured and sold by drug traffickers. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the federal agency responsible for narcotics enforcement and control, most of the illicit fentanyl found in the United States is smuggled from Mexico and uses chemicals from China.
In 2010, fewer than 40,000 people died from drug overdoses nationwide, and less than 10% of those deaths were related to fentanyl. At that time, deaths were primarily caused by the use of heroin or opioids prescribed by medical professionals.
A newly published study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) describes this change in perspective in detail. The work examines trends in overdose deaths in the country between 2010 and 2021, using data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to statistics, the increase in drugrelated deaths was first observed in 2015. Since then, the drug has spread across the country and the death rate has risen sharply.
Fourth wave of overdoses
Before moving on to this current scenario, the researchers describe three previous waves of the overdose crisis in the United States. Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, the majority of deaths associated with excessive chemical use were due to the use of opioids prescribed by healthcare professionals.
In 2010, the second wave of deaths related to drug users was detected. The country is currently experiencing an increase in heroin use. As of 2013, overdoses were caused by illegally obtained fentanyllike substances.
In a short time, the situation worsened and now deaths are linked to the mixture of fentanyl and other substances. Until then, overdose deaths had never been so common.