Opioids International Drug Trafficking

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International Drug Trafficking

At the 2017 Rx & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, the International Narcotic Affairs (INL) reminds us that there is no solution to the opioid epidemic that doesn’t also include an international component.

In 2016, the United Nations had their first special General Assembly on international drug trafficking in 18 years. At this meeting, the UN General Assembly started framing the narrative on substance use disorder more broadly than before, settling on the agreement to “define drug abuse as a criminal justice and a public health issue”.

Afghanistan produces approximately 80% of the world’s heroin, however only about 10% comes into the United States. State and federal government work to prevent Afghanistan-produced heroin from entering the country. In order to maintain a stronghold on the US market, the Mexican drug cartel is invested in preventing Afghanistan-produced heroin from entering the country. The majority of heroin comes from Mexico and fentanyl comes from China via Canada.

The INL has been working with China and Canada to regulate new forms of illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioids; in 2016, four more drugs became regulated, including carfentanyl. In addition, INL is working with the Canadian government on legislation to provide oversight of pill presses that produce counterfeit prescription medications.

William Brownfield stated that the opioid epidemic “started in 1996 with unfettered access to prescription opioids, aided by the Federal Drug Administration.”

William R Brownfield, Assistant Secretary for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) presented at the 2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

Please visit the Opioid Dashboard for more information on opioid overdose death, nonfatal overdose, use, misuse, substance use disorder, prescribing practices, supply, diversion, harm reduction, co-occurring conditions, and social determinants of health.