Schumer: Agreement with China on fentanyl could be a major step in curbing opioid crisis in the city

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is trying to curb the opioid crisis.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is trying to curb the opioid crisis.
Photo Max Blease

Following his personal meeting in China with President Xi Jinping last month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer detailed how the agreement President Joe Biden has announced with China is a long overdue step which has the potential to help cut off the supply of fentanyl at its source and stop this drug before it ever enters the country.

“Fentanyl has wreaked havoc in New York and across America,” Schumer said. “During my visit to China last month we were pointed and direct with President Xi, I told him the devastating impact I have seen the opioid crisis have on New York families.”  

Specifically, Schumer said China will take new action to enforce its own regulations against the companies that make precursor drugs in a major step to potentially cutting off the flow of the substances.

As a result, certain China-based pharmaceutical companies ceased operations and have had some international payment accounts blocked, representing the first law enforcement action against synthetic drug-related chemical sellers by Chinese authorities since 2017, according to the senator’s office. 

“Too many lives have been lost, and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York,” Schumer said. “I told President Xi that China taking steps to crack down on the sale of precursor chemicals would be a long overdue step to strengthening the relationship between our two nations and hope to see continued results from China in the near future.”

Illicit fentanyl is trafficked into the United States primarily from China and Mexico, and is responsible for the ongoing fentanyl epidemic in New York and across the country. China is the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and their immediate precursors. Some officials estimate that China is responsible for over 90% of the illicit fentanyl found in the U.S.

In New York in 2020, 87.9% of all opioid overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids, predominantly illicitly manufactured fentanyl. In 2022, New York City saw overdose deaths reach record numbers at more than 3,000, again, predominantly driven by illicit fentanyl.

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