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Opioid clampdown

China said Monday it would ban a designer drug called U-47700 and three others, following U.S. pressure to do more to control synthetic opioids blamed for fast-rising overdose deaths in the West.

In China, U-47700 has until now been a legal alternative to fentanyl and potent derivatives like carfentanil. Its usage has been growing among U.S. opioid addicts.

Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration listed U-47700 in the category of the most dangerous drugs it regulates, saying it was associated with dozens of fatalities. Some of the pills taken from Prince's estate after the musician's overdose death last year contained U-47700.

The DEA has long said that China is the top source country for synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its precursors, assertions Beijing has said lack firm evidence. 

Deng Ming, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, said that U-47700 and three other synthetic drugs — MT-45, PMMA, and 4,4'-DMAR — would be added to China's list of controlled substances as of July 1.

Yu Haibin, a division director at the Ministry of Public Security's Narcotics Control Bureau, said China was making "big efforts" to deal with drugs made by modifying the chemical structures of controlled substances in order to get around the law, and China has now restricted 138 of them.



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