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A bottle of fentanyl pharmaceuticals in China A bottle of fentanyl pharmaceuticals in Anyang city, central China’s Henan province, Nov. 12, 2018 (Photo by Chang Zhongzheng for Imaginechina via AP Images).

How China’s Lax Oversight Helped Make Fentanyl the Deadliest Drug in the U.S.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

If someone had mentioned fentanyl to you 5 or 10 years ago, you might have scratched your head. But today, this synthetic opioid has become a household word in the worst sense imaginable. It’s cheap and easy to manufacture, while being 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. And it’s the most commonly identified drug in fatal overdoses in the United States.

For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Ben Westhoff, a journalist who spent the past few years chronicling the rise of fentanyl for a new book, “Fentanyl Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic.” He shares unique insights from his reporting, which took him from rural Midwestern towns to a Chinese pharmaceutical lab to a treatment center in Slovenia.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

To send feedback or questions, email us at podcast@worldpoliticsreview.com.