While organised crime groups have successfully circumvented controls by innovating and changing the chemical structures of fentanyl, a top United Nations drugs expert hopes further regulating the drug in China will allow authorities to act faster. Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said Beijing’s decision to move to a generic control process, where any new fentanyl-related substances would be automatically controlled, would be a step forward.
“Basically what China will be doing now is to create a control process for the whole class of drugs … the intent is to accelerate control to ensure a faster reaction,” he said. Fentanyl – the most lethal category of opioids used in the United States – last year alone killed more than 29,000 people in the country, according to the US Centres for Disease Control. China has been blamed for what has been described as a public health crisis in America.