Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Global Health, will hold a hearing on China’s role in the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is killing thousands of American citizens, on Thursday, September 6, 2 p.m., in the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will be streamed live from the Committee’s website.
Smith announced the hearing during his remarks at Robbinville’s International Overdose Awareness Day last week.
“The agony suffered by the victims and their surviving families is a pain and grief that crushes,” Smith stated. “As we light a candle today in memory of a lost or recovering addict, let us be inspired and motivated knowing that with awareness of overdose comes the responsibility and the duty to act decisively and effectively.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 42,249 people nationwide died in 2016 from opioid overdoses, including 1,584 in New Jersey—204 deaths in Ocean County, 137 in Monmouth County, and 45 in Mercer County. According to provisional CDC data, the overall number of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017 jumped to 48,612, with 2,838 deaths in New Jersey.
The problem of potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl has only exacerbated the crisis. “Illicit fentanyl alone killed more Americans in 2016 than any other drug—and the trend continued in 2017 with about 29,000 overdose deaths,” Smith said.
China is the source of the vast majority of fentanyl, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Witnesses at the hearing will include leaders from the State Department, the DEA/Justice Department, academia and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.