Deadly pain relief drug fentanyl has Aussie authorities "on alert"

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-09 21:25:52|Editor: xuxin
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CANBERRA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Australian authorities on Tuesday expressed concern about the risk posed to the public by the drug fentanyl, which has been responsible for a rising number of deaths in North America.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication which can be 100 times more effective than morphine, but has been found to be lethal if abused - even in small doses.

Representatives from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) have said they were working together to prevent fentanyl deaths in Australia, following a spate of fatalities in North America.

CEO of the ACIC Chris Dawson said while authorities had intercepted more than 50 shipments of the drug over the last five years, many distributors and users were able to obtain lethal levels of fentanyl from legitimate sources such as at hospitals.

"Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical which has therapeutic application, but is also diverted to the illicit market," Dawson told News Corp on Tuesday.

"The ACIC assesses that most non-medical use of fentanyl is a result of domestic diversion from legitimate sources of supply, rather than importation.

"(But) the ACIC is aware that small amounts of these substances are being imported through a number of Internet sites and various countries."

Meanwhile, ABF Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg told News Corp that officers were constantly monitoring online activity on the deep web to prevent importation and online sales of the drug, after his office was "alerted to the prominence of fentanyl abuse" at a meeting between Australia's border protection heads in February last year.

"We know fentanyl has caused a large number of deaths across North America in recent years, and we are alert to the risk of it having a similar impact here in Australia," Quaedvlieg said.

"As a result of these discussions ... We are well-positioned to identify and intercept fentanyl at the Australian border.

"This has included the creation of a dedicated intelligence team working to identify suppliers, buyers and routes into Australia for this dangerous drug."