According to the US authorities, this year seized such a large quantity of the drug fentanyl that it could theoretically kill the entire US population. The US Drug Enforcement Agency said on Tuesday that 50.6 million fentanyl pills and more than 4,500 kilograms of fentanyl powder had been seized in 2022. This equates to an estimated "more than 379 million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl" -- enough "to kill all Americans." An estimated 333 million people live in the United States.
"Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat to this country," the DEA said. "It's a highly addictive man-made opioid that's 50 times more potent than heroin. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, the small amount that fits on the tip of a pen, is considered a potentially lethal dose.”
Fentanyl is becoming a growing problem in the US. US authorities blame the drug for most of the more than 107,000 fatal overdoses in the country between July 2021 and June 2022.
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is approved for the treatment of severe pain, usually associated with advanced cancer. However, illegally manufactured fentanyl is sold in illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effects, and is often mixed with heroin or other drugs such as cocaine, or compressed into counterfeit prescription pills.
Fentanyl is relatively easy to manufacture and inexpensive. According to the DEA, the main sources of fentanyl in the US are the Sinaloa and Jalisco drug cartels in Mexico. The chemicals required for production come primarily from China.