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Fentanyl smuggled from China kills 29,000 Americans annually

Fentanyl smuggled from China kills 29,000 Americans annually

Meanwhile, American officials reviewing generous postal rates for China and scientists are testing non-addictive pain-killer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drug overdose deaths surpassed 72,000 in 2017, representing an increase of more than 6,000 deaths over the estimate projected from the data for the previous 12-month period. Fentanyl overdoses contributed significantly to this grim, new statistic.

That staggering sum works out to about 200 drug overdose deaths every single day, or one every eight minutes.

The increase was driven primarily by a continued surge in deaths involving synthetic opioids, a category that includes fentanyl. There were nearly 30,000 deaths involving those drugs in 2017, according to the preliminary data, an increase of more than 9,000 over the prior year.

Illicit Chinese drug production is the leading source of the drug.

[R]ogue chemical companies in China — operating openly and outside the reach of U.S. authorities — are the largest single source of the deadly drugs, law enforcement officials say.

“People in labs in China are producing this substance that is killing Americans,” Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein said in an interview. “This is a real crisis. The Chinese government has the ability to stop this if they want to. We believe they should want to do that.”

U.S. officials have pushed Beijing to shut down the labs, and say Chinese authorities have taken steps to police chemical makers. The push comes even as relations with Beijing have grown acrimonious amid an escalating trade war and U.S. unease over China’s increasing economic and military clout.

One arrow in America’s economic quiver to aim at this problem is the low postal rates that China has enjoyed. Targeting those postal rates may be the most effective option because small bags of fentanyl are readily smuggled through the mail in “micro-shipments” that are far harder to identify than other drugs.

Trump’s ordering of the U.S. Postal Service to withdraw from an obscure 192-nation postal treaty threatens to hit American shoppers used to bargains on platforms such as eBay Inc. and Inc., where thousands of listings from sellers based in China hawking dirt-cheap consumer goods will likely disappear.

The treaty, which sets fees that national postal services charge to deliver mail and small packages from other countries, gives poor and developing markets lower shipping rates than developed nations. The agreement – and another one building on it signed between the U.S. and China postal services in 2011 – has essentially given Chinese merchants a $170 million annual subsidy to ship products directly to American homes.

As an added bonus, readjusted postal rates will make American businesses more competitive against Chinese counterparts.

American scientific research is another potential arrow to target fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl’s chemical structure makes it far more lethal than other opioids, with which users may be more familiar.

While both heroin and fentanyl bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, fentanyl’s chemical make-up allows it to arrive at the opioid receptors much faster than heroin. Fentanyl also adheres more tightly to the opioid receptor than other opioids, which means that only a small amount is enough to catalyze the molecular chain of events that initiates the opiods’ effects on the body. As a result, a minuscule dose of fentanyl can have the same lethality as a much larger dose of heroin.

American medical researchers have tested a non-addictive painkiller in primates and found it to be safe and effective, which could help fight the national opioid addiction crisis.

…A team of scientists led by Prof. Mei-Chuan Ko, of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, developed a non-addictive painkiller called AT-121.

The researchers have just tested the compound in a species of non-human primates called rhesus monkeys and published the results of their experiments in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

AT-121 was designed with a dual purpose in mind: to block the addictive action of opioids and to relieve chronic pain at the same time.

More preclinical studies are being planned to prove that the drug is safe before moving into clinical trials in humans.


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notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | October 23, 2018 at 9:29 am

RE: “Meanwhile, American officials reviewing generous postal rates for China…”

I’ve read in the past that they special break on postal rates really helps Amazon’s China sellers.

Now I find this article.

“Chinese Merchants Get an Even Better US Post Deal Than Amazon”

Equitable and safe trade.

Safe and equitable Exchange.

The Friendly Grizzly | October 23, 2018 at 9:48 am

What I’d like to see is mandatory Country of Origin labels on all medications, whether over the counter, or prescription. Chinese-made Dijoxin nearly did my mother in: the tablets were mislabeled and were many times the strength shown. There was a world-wide recall.

Uh-huh. America’s insane mania for micro-controlling drugs is a new excuse to cripple our economy. Well, that’s a first. Usually they don’t bother with an excuse for jacking up postal rates, they just do it and we’re stuck. It looks like this one is going to be crippling, and they’ll need cover.

obscure 192-nation postal treaty

It’s hardly obscure, since it will clobber just about any American who buys anything beyond local farm produce. Our supply of everything from inertial guidance systems down to thumb tacks comes from China. This will hit everybody. And it won’t even help American businesses, since American businesses are selling stuff which is shipped here from . . . you guessed it, China. Wherever they add the shipping cost increase, the consumer will eventually get it, and good ‘n hard.

    tom_swift – take a certain sized package to ship from China to the USA is $3.50 (what the Chinese shipper pays). The REAL cost to ship that package, however, is $10 (per US Postal Service numbers). Why in the world would you support us Americans paying a Chinese business’s shipping costs of the $7 loss? If an American wants to buy something ok fine, but that person pays the $10 or more.

Considering that therapeutic doses of fentanyl are measured in micrograms, a kilogram of fentanyl would be millions of doses. And you’re going to raise the price of a dose with … shipping rates?

As for Chinese-made pharmaceuticals, country-of-origin labeling is of little value here as much of what is imported is chemical ingredients and precursors, and not the finished product.

Thus, your generic prescription drug (or OTC vitamin pill, or nutritional supplement) may be labeled “made in USA” yet what’s gone into that tab may have come from China.

Chinese companies put dangerous chemicals in baby formula to make the protein amount read higher when tested. It only killed a few hundred babies and poisoned countless others. Chinese people refuse to buy formula made in China and smuggling it in is a huge business. 2 Years ago Chinese companies making childhood vaccines were found to be substituting water for the vaccines.
2 years later Chinese companies were caught selling the same fake vaccines. If Chinese companies are willing to kill their own people to make a buck I’m surprised it’s only 29,000 deaths and real fentanyl.

I wonder how long it will take the free world to realize that China is the evil empire and that doing any kind of business with them is suicide? They do not enter into any business deal with the thought of just making a profit. They ALWAYS have other larger and more evil motives. Look at GWB and obama and how they didn’t even bring this stuff up while they were in office. There is so much money to be made on both sides of the fence that it cripples normal security measures. As grim as it is they are helping the Darwin theory by sending deadly drugs to us.

There is no room in the drug culture for amateurs. HS Thompson.

IMHO, the headline should read that fentanyl has lead to an increase in accidental suicides. My approach in dealing with addicts is to frame it in the context that each use is a suicide attempt, which often fails. They don’t slip or relapse in my book, they simply fail to kill themselves this time. I do this to impart the seriousness of the game that they are engaged in by seriously screwing with their denial. I want to put a bit more truthiness in the situation so that the message to not do it gets across. They like to sooth their conscience and minimize the risk and consequences by saying “I got loaded,” or, “we partied last night.” But Homey don’t play that.

The risk of an OD varies with both potency of the substance and validity of the source. We could have an hour/semester long discussion on pharmacokinetics here, but in short, fentanyl is fast acting by having a lipid (fat) solubility that gets it to the cellular receptors twice as fast as say, morphine. It is like the first hill of a really good roller coaster on whippets, so I’ve heard. It is popular because it works, really really well. The effect of adding fentanyl here is two-fold. The “pleasure aspect” or addiction potential of a substance is related to the amount of time between administration and effect, which is why smoking crack is way worse than snorting coke, 5 seconds vs 30 seconds or more, and Coke is usually mixed with procaine so the user experiences a numbness immediately, long before the drug has even had a chance to reach the brain (hence increasin the addiction potential). Fentanyl adds a little more wham bam to the opioid experience. But fentanyl is also very short acting, with a half-life measured in minutes as opposed to hours. So it is mixed with other opioids with a longer half life to both give a rush and also stave off withdrawal (and to be honest, 98% of continued opioid use is for the latter). Addicts don’t really get high, they just feel less sh!tty. Think of it as a more advanced form of a beer and a bump. Fentanyl brings back a little excitement to what has just become a routine. But backyard chemists aren’t known for quality control, so that miniscule amount of fentanyl gets mixed in with the much larger quantity of the slower acting opioid under conditions that might not yield an even distribution. Who hasn’t gotten a chocolate chip cookie with a big lump of sugar? More than likely it is a poorly-mixed dose with a higher than anticipated amount of fentanyl which causes the fatal overdose by rapidly suppressing the respiratory centers on the brain; it only takes a few minutes. And this is how it ties in with my theory of suicide. Each injection is technically a suicide attempt, where the addict could die. Of course, it is like everything else, just a point somewhere on a long continuum of probability. So I phrase it as being just like a revolver. Some revolvers have 5 cylinders, some 6, some have more. Shooting heroin is like playing Russian roulette with a revolver with 1000 cylinders. Play long enough and at some point you will get unlucky. Add fentanyl into the mix and suddenly that revolver goes down to 100, or even 50 cylinders. Some batches are like playing with a break-open shotgun. But unlike the gun analogy, it all looks the same, a vial of white powder or a gooey ball. The only way to win is to not play. But the addict is only living from shot to shot. “Right now” is their only concern. If it were broadcast that a bad batch of drugs were being sold, that might register with an addict for 6 hrs, but after 24 it is “F-it” at best.

Next class: sufentanil, the plutonium of narcotics. 😉

I don’t understand the distinction between addictive and non-addictive pain medications. For several months until I could have shoulder replacement surgery, my MD put me on Tramadol – 4x daily – but I took only 1 at bedtime to help me sleep. Several months after surgery I stopped taking Tramadol, which is supposedly a non-addictive opioid and it took 4-5 days of mostly sleepless nights to get back to normal. Though it may not be addictive, in hind-sight it did a lot for shoulder pain AND all the minor aches and pains of old age and arthritis and helped me sleep. When I quit Tramadol, all that came back with a vengeance and it was not easy to resist the urge to resume taking it. And it’s supposedly non-addictive. I don’t get the distinction between addictive and dependent.

In short, dependence is a pharmacological/physiological process, addiction is a behavioral issue that occurs in addition to the dependence. In terms of medical origins, everyone can become dependent on opioids because basic science does not discriminate. When opioids are taken, the opioid receptors in the body adjust downward to maintain homeostasis. But when the opioids are withdrawn, there are now way fewer targets for the endogenous opioids (endorphins, etc) to activate, so withdrawal symptoms are experienced. FWIW, the pleasure aspects of opioid systems in the body are a very small percentage, over half of the receptors are in the stomach and intestines to effect motility, hence the typical withdrawal symptoms. The half life of the receptors is about a week, so if suppressed to 50% of normal, after a week the body will be back to 75%, another week 87%, etc. Anyone who takes opioid narcotics for 10 days will experience about the same level of withdrawal symptoms. It is just physiology devoid of any moral considerations. If the drugs are being taken for the end effect (i.e. no pain at all), then mechanisms of dependence indicate that the dosage will need to increase over time as more and more receptors are suppressed. That is how someone taking 4 pills a day ends up taking 80 at the end. They aren’t necessarily getting worse, their need is just getting larger. If they took 80 right off the bat they would be dead right then and there. Someone saying that they “just want to take the edge off” is in a dangerous place, because “the edge” is a moving target.

A small percentage of those who have become pharmacologically dependent will return to usage, for a whole variety of reasons, and this is where it crosses over into addiction, as seen in continued use despite negative consequences, and a whole constellation of behavioral changes. Withdrawal can be managed with tapering off, or going cold turkey. Cold turkey off of alcohol, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines can kill you (seizures due to overexcitement of neurons), and should be medically managed, but no one has ever died from opiate withdrawal (though many have really wanted to after 4 days =8^O ).

In the case of tramadol, there was a “hope” that the time course of action would be such that there wouldn’t be a measurable risk of addiction, but that didn’t pan out. There is an inverse relationship between effectiveness and addiction risk, and some are hoping to find a substance which somehow doesn’t follow this curve. Good luck with that. I manage on vitamin I (ibuprofen) and heat/ice for 98% of what ails me. The other 2% I tough it through.

In my theory of addiction, the substance crosses over into a level of importance that could almost be considered a “need,” that is, to an addict, the substance is as important as water, food, shelter, companionship. Telling an addict to stop using is similar to telling a normal person to stop breathing. Hold your breath and you will quickly experience symptoms that an addict will describe during withdrawal. Of course, not breathing will kill you. But an addict will more than likely use in order to prevent the feelings of imminent death before the latter positive effects of not using can kick in. And often compounding this is environment, where addiction becomes a lifestyle of sorts, where the substance is the sun and EVERYTHING revolves around that. Take alcohol for example. Stop selling beer at the ballpark one day a week and see what that does to attendance on that day after a year. I, for one, simply had no activities in my life that did not also included alcohol. “Family friendly” was not in my vocabulary. We tell addicts that if they want to recover, they need to change their playmates and playgrounds, and often that includes family members as well. Show me a woman who serves her hubby a drink at the door, and I will show you a woman who is terrified that her husband will leave her is he sobers up. It turns out that family is rarely the support system here that they imagine they are. Better the addict you know than the sober person you don’t. There is a solution to addiction, but it is neither simple nor easy, otherwise, everyone would be doing it.

BTW, this is about 0.1% of what I could say on the subject.

Next lesson: liberals are just thinly veiled enablers.

As long as you have to pay $4000 dollars to go to the ER people are going to self medicate with whatever they can get. It irritates me that government creates a problem through regulation then arrests those who are victimized by it. If people could buy what they need at a pharmacy they would do that instead of getting it from the street corner. The new laws being promoted such as seeing a doctor every week for pain meds will only further drive people to street drugs. Who can afford to see their doctor every week on top of the price of medicine?

Hasn’t it been observed that those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it?
We’ve been in this scenario before, but this time we’re the ones who are on the receiving end.
And it truly appears that payback is indeed a bitch.

The Packetman | October 23, 2018 at 1:37 pm


Political ads reliably tell me this is Marsha Blackburn’s fault because she voted against letting the DEA bust shady drug manufacturers who sold opioids to shady pharmacies who sold the drugs to any shady Tom, Dick, or Harry that wanted them because Big Pharma gave her, like, $12 billion in campaign contributions and they sure got their moneys’ worth.

Scott Adams, Dilbert creator and twitter pundit, recently lost his own stepson Justin to a Fentanyl overdose. He would like to see the Chineese executives wiped out. I don’t blame him one bit.

Nice pharma explanation MW…at the last diversion conference I attended, discussions were around what can be done to slow the micro mailing of chinese fentanyl. One of the things I never realized was the routing through Canada, which bypasses both Canadian and US inspections. Canada doesn’t inspect since it’s routed to US, and US doesn’t inspect micro packages from Canada.

China is producing fentanyl by the ton and dumping it into America. Seems like a reverse opium war.