Schumer says agreement with China ‘pivotal step forward’ in opioid crisis in NY

Posted 20 November 2023 at 12:20 pm

Press Release, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer

Following his personal meeting in China with President Xi Jinping last month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has detailed how the new deal President Biden has struck with China to crack down on the scourge of fentanyl could be a major step forward to curb the opioid crisis in New York. However, Schumer said now more than ever it is imperative to hold China accountable and ensure there is compliance with their commitments.

Charles Schumer

“Too many lives have been lost, and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York,” Schumer said last Thursday. “Today is a pivotal step forwards in a decades-long battle and I will be fighting to hold China’s feet to the fire and keep them accountable for their commitments to cut off the flow of fentanyl to America. 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.”

Specifically, Schumer explained China has said it will take new action to enforce its own regulations against the companies which make precursor drugs in a major step to potentially cut off the flow of this deadly drug.

A similar notice to industry in 2019 led to a drastic reduction in seizures of fentanyl shipments to the United States from China. Schumer said the U.S. also has information that that PRC police have taken law enforcement action against Chinese synthetic drug and chemical precursor suppliers.

As a result, certain China-based pharmaceutical companies ceased operations and have had some international payment accounts blocked. This probably represents the first law enforcement action against synthetic drug-related chemical sellers by Chinese authorities since 2017.

In addition, China and the United States will be launching a counter narcotics working group to bolster law enforcement and information sharing to cut off the flow or precursor drugs and illicit fentanyl. The U.S. and China have both said they will also start working and on an ongoing basis at the senior level to directly address this crisis and start working closely together to carry this initiative forward. In conjunction, Schumer said these long overdue steps have real potential to reduce the flow of these drugs into the United States and places like New York, and ultimately save lives.

In New York in 2020, 87.9 percent of all overdose deaths involving any opioid involved synthetic opioids, predominantly illicitly manufactured fentanyl like described above. In 2022, New York City saw overdose deaths reach record numbers at over 3,000, predominantly driven by illicit fentanyl.

The additional enforcement and actions will help tackle the spread of fentanyl directly by ensuring the chemicals used to make the illicit drug never reaches its targets, cutting off the manufacturing of the drug before it can reach streets in communities across America, Schumer said.

Editor’s Note: In Orleans County, there were six fatal overdoses from fentanyl and synthetic opioids in 2021, and 33 outpatient emergency department visits from ovoid overdoses, the state Department of Health reported.

The state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) also reports there were 228 admissions to substance use disorder treatment programs in Orleans County in 2020, and the 176 in 2021 and 203 in 2022.