Philippines Raises Alarm over Illicit Fentanyl Imports from Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand

Philippines Raises Concerns Over Growing Fentanyl Problem Imported from Laos
FILE: this image is used only for representational purpose (photo: CNN Health)

The Philippines has raised concerns about the growing misuse of fentanyl in the country that is being illegally imported from Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. 

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has deemed the use of fentanyl as a party drug in the country as an “emerging drug problem” due to its dangerous side effects.

The drug which is typically utilized in the treatment of cancer patients, is now being used as a recreational narcotic, often leading to devastating outcomes. As an analgesic, fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has also pointed out Fentanyl as a primary contributor to the opioid crisis in the country and has led to an epidemic of numerous overdose deaths in the country.

According to the Manila Times, PDEA Director-General Moro Virgilio Lazo is taking steps to track down the source of the fentanyl supply in the country, “We are closely coordinating with our foreign counterparts to help us with information gathering,” Lazo said on Tuesday.

Lazo also said that the Philippines has been the transshipment point for other international illegal drug smuggling efforts. Especially Manila has seen illicit drugs from Laos, Burma, and Thailand being sold in the city while the remaining supplies are smuggled to Europe, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.

Moreover, Fentanyl is relatively easy to manufacture, making it simple for traffickers to produce and smuggle, as a small amount is sufficient to produce a significant effect.

According to a report last week, Thai anti-narcotics and customs officials seized a total of 510.7 tones of aniline destined for Laos for not having a correct import permit. Although the company importing the drug said that it was intended for the production of cosmetics,  it was reported that the amount of confiscated aniline had the potential to yield approximately 85,000 kg of fentanyl.