WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – The State Department is launching a global initiative to fight against synthetic drugs, which officials say are a big problem because of how deadly and addictive the drugs are — on top of being easily and cheaply made.
“Nearly 110,000 Americans died last year of a drug overdose, two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids,” said United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We believe the United States is a canary in a coal mine when it comes to fentanyl, an exceptionally addictive and deadly synthetic drug.”
Secretary Blinken says the saturation of synthetic opioids in the U.S. is pushing the drugs into other parts of the world.
“Synthetic drugs are easy, all too easy to produce and to smuggle,” European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylga Johansson said.
“According to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, the global count of people struggling with drug use disorders has escalated to 39.5 million people,” Park Jin, the minister of foreign affairs for the Republic of Korea, added.
That’s why officials from around the world gathered in a virtual forum to discuss strategies for global cooperation to fight synthetic drugs.
Already existing global efforts include intelligence sharing on drug trafficking, new laws and prosecutions.
“This coalition is intended to build on these and other important efforts, not take their place,” Blinken said.
International leaders say they’re committed to working together to stop drug trafficking and production and “to establish a global coalition to coordinate our efforts in managing this crisis,” Jin said.