On Tuesday, November 28, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the head of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, said that China was responsible for the fentanyl problem that is flooding the streets and causing addiction and fatal overdoses in the United States.
The statement was made in Baltimore, Maryland, at a hearing for the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.
Christie has been actively leading the Commission, which is charged with providing the Trump Administration with guidance on how to overcome the opioid crisis, which results in the death of 71 Americans each day.
Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid that has been involved in more overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on November 3, over 5,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose been July and December of 2016, and over half of those deaths involved fentanyl.
Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had praised China for their efforts in regulating synthetic opioids in August, where he stated that China had been an “incredible partner” as the U.S. struggled to deal with the opioid crisis.
However, on November 3, a Chinese official issued a statement denying that the country bore the full responsibility for fentanyl in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the FDA has declared a shortage of legally available fentanyl, even as the availability of dangerous illicit versions of the substance continue to be available on the black market.
As addiction rates and overdose deaths continue to rise, the Trump Administration has appointed Kellyanne Conway to serve as the White House’s “point person,” while the Department of Justice (DOJ) advances several additional strategies meant to quell the Opioid Crisis. The strategies favored by the DOJ are legally based, and do not incorporate harm reduction of addiction recovery treatment.