GOP senator calls for China to crack down on illegal opioid

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is calling on the State Department to pressure China to crack down on the export of the deadly opioid fentanyl. 

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“I urge you to apply additional pressure on the Chinese government to update its scheduling protocols for controlled substances to immediately stop the export of illicit fentanyl and dangerous analogues, such as W-18, as well as pill press machines,” Toomey wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySantorum: Dems have a chance in 2020 if they pick someone ‘unexpected’ Major Obama 2008 fundraiser throws support behind Beto 2020: ‘Time to pass the torch’ Would-be 2020 Dem candidates head for the exits MORE

Fentanyl, which is more potent than heroin, is seen as a rising danger in the national crisis of opioid overdoses. 

“We need international cooperation, especially from China,” wrote Toomey, who is facing a tough reelection race this year. “The State Department annual narcotics report noted that China remains a ‘major producer and exporter of new psychoactive substances’ due in part to the country’s ‘regulatory loopholes’ that ‘provide an ideal environment for the production and export of these drugs.’”

The House and Senate have both passed packages aimed at fighting the opioid crisis and are now working to bridge the differences between the two.

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, increased by 80 percent in just one year, between 2013 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Limiting the introduction of synthetic fentanyl will save lives and give those battling addiction another opportunity to achieve recovery,” Toomey writes.