N.H. leaders praise China’s commitment to battle fentanyl

Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration A photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration shows fentanyl pills. U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-N.H., as well as Gov. Chris Sununu, are praising commitments by China to classify fentanyl as a controlled substance.

NASHUA – “China Girl,” “China Town” and “China White” are three of the street names Drug Enforcement Administration officials list for the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

In light of these connections to the deadly drug, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-N.H., as well as Gov. Chris Sununu and other state officials, are praising reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement with President Donald Trump to classify fentanyl as a controlled substance.

“This is an important breakthrough that will help save lives, but this commitment must be followed by diligent implementation by the Chinese government,” Shaheen said. “Fentanyl continues to be the main cause of overdose deaths in New Hampshire, devastating families and communities all across our state. I appreciate the president’s attention to the fentanyl trafficking issue, and will continue to work with the administration to stop fentanyl distribution in the U.S.”

“I applaud the Trump administration for working to secure this agreement with China to classify fentanyl as a controlled substance, and we must do all we can to hold China accountable and ensure that they follow through on this commitment,” Hassan added.

Data released last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 45 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 nationwide in drug deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and has claimed the lives of hundreds of New Hampshire’s citizens. Strong penalties in China will reduce the flow of this powerful drug into our state,” Patrick Tufts, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, said.

Information from the Drug Enforcement Administration states that fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic. It gives the user a sense of relaxation and euphoria, but is very dangerous when improperly used.

“As governor of one of the hardest hit states by the opioid epidemic, I applaud the president for working with Chinese officials in reducing the amount of fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances from entering the U.S.,” Sununu said. “For the first time in years, the overdose rate in New Hampshire is projected to go down, and we are confident this positive development will help contribute to a future decrease in the number of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire.”