Drug overdose is the leading cause of death by accident in the United States, with an average of 130 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose. The drug overdose crisis in the United States is being fueled by an illegal synthetic drug finding its way into the country from China. A deadly form of the drug fentanyl—up to 50 times stronger than heroin, is killing people in the United States at the rate of nearly 80 a day. Producers of the drug in China have been able to bypass regulations by manufacturing variants of the opioid.

President Donald Trump (L), meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo, File)

The president accused China on Aug.1, of reneging on its promise to restrict the synthetic opioid’s entry into America. Xi had promised Trump at a summit in Argentina last December that he would act. “My friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of fentanyl to the United States—this never happened and many Americans continue to die,” Trump said in a tweet. “We’re losing thousands of people to fentanyl,” he later told reporters.

“Each year, tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses involving fentanyl, most of which originates in China. In order for us to save American lives, it’s critical China follow through on its pledge to schedule all fentanyl-related drugs as a class and crackdown on those producing these deadly substances. The United States will continue working diligently with our partners abroad to keep lethal drugs like fentanyl out of our communities,” ONDCP Director James Carroll said.

A bag of fentanyl seized in a drug raid is displayed at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Testing and Research Laboratory in Sterling, Virginia, Aug. 9, 2016. High demand by U.S. drug users has made China a major exporter of the deadly synthetic substance. (AP)

The president has declared Sept. 8 through to Sept.14 Opioid Crisis Awareness Week, and stated in his Proclamation, “The opioid crisis has devastated communities across America and has stolen precious lives, leaving families with an unfillable void. During Opioid Crisis Awareness Week, we reaffirm our commitment to ending this terrible crisis and eradicating drug addiction from our society.”

Police in small city on the U.S.-Mexico border said three students have been arrested for possessing fentanyl pills on campus, including one who had over 3,000 pills with her. San Luis, Arizona, police said two 18-year-old girls and a 16-year-old boy were arrested on June 5, 2019, after an on-campus officer found them with pills. (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)

The president added that it is crucial to prevent young people from trying drugs in the first instance, and a nationwide public ad campaign has been launched, with over half of all young adults already reached. “These critical actions, combined with the record $6 billion in new funding I secured during my first 2 years in office to fuel the response to this crisis, are leading to results. Provisional data shows we are making progress, with overdose deaths declining for the first time since 1990,” stated the president.

“Nothing is more important than defeating the opioid and addiction crisis,” said President Trump.