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Blinken urges stronger global efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Scripps News about the global fentanyl crisis, urging more countries to collaborate on solutions.
Blinken urges stronger global efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis
Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 14, 2024

For a decade now, the fentanyl crisis has gripped American communities large and small. 

Now, much of the world is coming together for a meeting in Austria to try to combat this and other illicit drugs.  

Among those attending the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs and representing the United States as the head of delegation will be U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Before his departure to Vienna on Thursday, Secretary Blinken shared with Scripps News his objectives and aspirations for the trip.

“What we're asking the world to do is to join us in confronting as effectively as possible the opioid crisis that has affected this country so deeply and is affecting more and more countries around the world,” said Blinken. “Every town, every city, every state in the United States has been affected by this, and more than 40% of Americans know someone who has died to an opioid overdose. It's the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 45, but it's also, by definition, a global problem. Not simply a national one.”

Blinken then explained that cooperation from other nations is essential to being able to solve the current opioid crisis the U.S. is facing because the chemicals used to produce substances like fentanyl more often than not come from halfway across the globe. These chemicals are then transported to criminal operations near U.S. borders, such as those in Mexico, where they are then transformed into lethal drugs like fentanyl. Ultimately, these drugs make their way across the border and into American hands.

SEE MORE: Over 40% of adults say they know someone who died from drug overdose

China is currently the main source of the raw materials used to make fentanyl. Last year, the Biden administration took action against Chinese companies and executives involved in importing these materials. Since then, China has put in place new rules and shut down companies accused of promoting, making, and selling these substances.

“We put together a working group between the United States and China so that we're tracking this together every single day, every single week. So, we've seen real results,” said Blinken, underscoring the effective progress of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats, launched last year. This coalition is effectively implementing resources for prevention, overdose treatment, and increased law enforcement, Blinken reassured.

“In Vienna, the United Nations is bringing, quite literally, the entire world together, including China, to reinforce these efforts," said Blinken. "We want to see a couple of new ingredients that go into the making of fentanyl put on a prohibited list so that they can't be traded easily or freely. We want to see countries that have been on the sidelines put more resources into law enforcement, put more resources into their health care systems to deal with this."

Blinken asserts that although China has upheld its commitment to regulate the entities and individuals accountable for distributing these chemicals, the U.S. intends to ensure the continuity of these efforts.

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