DEA: China's recent blacklisting of carfentanil a 'game changer' for opioid epidemic

The Chinese government is adding the deadly elephant tranquilizer carfentanil to the nation's list of controlled substances. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration categorized the move as a potential "game changer" for the American opioid epidemic, according to a report from NPR.

Carfentanil is a variant of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Both drugs are widely manufactured in China and obtained by drug dealers in the U.S. via the internet. The DEA believes China's stricter regulation of the drug will help curb rates of surging overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids in the U.S.

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than morphine and has been linked to a rash of overdoses in the U.S., as the substance is frequently cut into batches of heroin to boost profit margins for drug dealers.

Carfentanil is so deadly it's been researched as a potential chemical weapon, according to the report. The substance is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. In August 2016, carfentanil-laced heroin was linked to more than 75 overdoses in Indiana and Ohio in less than a week. The DEA confirmed more than 400 seizures of carfentanil across eight U.S. states from July through October in 2016, according to NPR.

In addition to carfentanil, the Chinese drug ban will also restrict two other less potent opioids related to the deadly elephant tranquilizer. The new rule will go into effect March 1.

More articles on opioids: 
NFL players' reliance on opioids for pain relief could change with relaxed marijuana policy 
Another West Virginia town joins ranks of municipalities suing pharma over opioid epidemic 
BCBS of Tennessee launches efforts to curb state's opioid abuse 'crisis'

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