United Nations in Vienna Taking Action to Stem International Flow of Dangerous Opioids

Heroin and fentanyl exhibit after drug bust. (Hartford Police Department via AP, File)

U.S. Focuses on Carfentanil during Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. While the opioid epidemic has reached crisis proportions in the United States, it is far from being an exclusively American problem.

Pills containing illicit narcotic drugs. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

“Families, communities, and citizens across our country are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history, and even… world history. The fact is this is a worldwide problem.” President Trump’s words last October are as true today as ever, and the need for international cooperation in fighting dangerous opioids is as critical as ever.

Many of the illicit opioids that are killing American citizens are produced overseas, and are trafficked to the United States by criminal organizations that operate transnationally.

This week, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the principal United Nations policy-making body charged with guiding international action against illicit narcotic drugs, is holding its annual meeting in Vienna where thousands of diplomats, government officials, subject matter experts, and NGO representatives will convene to discuss the most pressing drug issues of our time.

This year, the Commission will consider – upon U.S. request – controls on the killer drug carfentanil and several other synthetic opioids.

An example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid 10,000 times more potent than morphine that has been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths in the United States. It and other fentanyl-related compounds are a danger to public safety, first responder, medical, treatment, and laboratory personnel. Last March, also at the request of the United States, the Commission considered new international controls on the two primary ingredients used to produce fentanyl, a drug that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin; the Commission approved these controls unanimously. This change and other efforts have resulted in a decline in the presence of these chemicals in the illicit drug market.

The opioid crisis we face knows no borders. International partnerships are vital to curbing transnational criminal organizations and the criminal activity they perpetuate to traffic drugs and destroy American lives. We will continue to work aggressively within the international community to pursue the fight against opioids.