‘India’s role key in combating spread of synthetic drugs’

Notably, Fentanyl is considered a highly potent synthetic opioid, which is primarily used as an analgesic. Since 2018, fentanyl and its analogues have led to the most drug overdose deaths in the US…reports Asian Lite News

Stating that India is a global leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, US special envoy Uzra Zeya said that New Delhi’s role is critical in combating the spread of synthetic drugs. US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights made the remarks at the 4th US-India Counternarcotics Working Group meeting here in Washington.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu also said that India and the US are working to expand the scope of bilateral cooperation in drug policy.

“Translating vision into action! Delighted to join opening session of India-US Counter Narcotics Working Group in #WashingtonDC. Important discussions ahead as we consolidate bilateral cooperation in drug policy and work to expand its scope as guided by PM @narendramodi & President Joe Biden @POTUS,” the Indian envoy said on Twitter.

Addressing the session, Uzra Zeya said, “Prime Minister Modi’s official state visit reaffirmed that the US-India relationship is one of the most consequential of the 21st century. Together, our two leaders publicly affirmed their vision of the United States and India as among the closest partners in the world, celebrating in their joint statement”.

“A partnership of democracies looking into the 21st century with hope, ambition, and confidence,” a partnership that is “grounded in respect for human rights, and shared principles of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law,” she quoted the joint statement.

She further said that the ‘historic’ visit underscored the importance of India-US partnership on global challenges such as counternarcotics.

“The Synthetic drugs significantly and directly impact the populations of both India, US and also countries around the world, claiming countless lives and perpetuating harmful stigma for those who live with addiction,” Zeya said, adding that the “scourge of synthetic drugs is a shared challenge faced by many of us that requires a global solution”.

“India is a global leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and consequently is a critical, global leader in combating the spread of synthetic drugs,” she added.

The Under Secretary called on the two countries to prevent the spread of fentanyl and other synthetics in our countries and abroad, riding on the resilient bilateral relationship between the two nations.

Notably, Fentanyl is considered a highly potent synthetic opioid, which is primarily used as an analgesic. Since 2018, fentanyl and its analogues have led to the most drug overdose deaths in the US.

“We must also come together to find effective ways to help those struggling with addiction and reduce the demand for these harmful substances.  Here are two specific ways we can work together to accomplish this,” Zeya added.

“First, we can continue to work together in multilateral spaces to address these threats.  Our recent collaboration at the launch of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats on July 7 is a prime example,” she said.

She also thanked Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar for demonstrating steadfast support for these priorities and for highlighting, in his remarks, that we stand united in our collective resolve to combat illicit synthetic drugs

“The United States welcomes India’s continued leadership through participation in the Coalition’s working groups, as a co-chair, or through expert input. Additionally, we will continue to raise synthetic drugs at the UN and hope we can count on you to do the same. For instance, we are hosting a high-level side event to advance the work of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats on the margins of the upcoming 78th UN General Assembly High-Level Week and welcome India’s participation,” Zeya further said.

The US special envoy also counted on G20 as a multilateral forum where the continued collaboration will pay dividends.

“Our partnership within the G20 continues to be fruitful, and India’s clear-eyed work to raise the profile of counter-narcotics and synthetic drugs in this important forum for the first time is laudable. We are pleased to have proposed language for the draft Leaders’ Declaration, calling for the creation of a dedicated counter-narcotics workstream within the G20, which we believe will be an important step forward in addressing this critical issue,” Zeya said.

She further stressed leveraging the partnership within the CNWG to make a difference against narcotic challenges.

“Since 2020, this bilateral working group continues to grow to meet the global narcotics challenges that both our nations face. In the last year alone, the United States and India met three times to identify specific actions we can pursue together across law enforcement, regulatory, multilateral, and public health spectrums. These working sessions underscore our substantive cooperation throughout the year, not just during our annual CNWG meeting,” Zeya stated.

Zeya said, “I would like to highlight how the CNWG’s Sub-Working Groups are taking action and producing results. The work we do in these groups provides an invaluable platform to deepen our collaboration on regulatory issues, strengthen law enforcement cooperation, coordinate our multilateral engagement, and support drug demand reduction. Under the Law Enforcement Sub-Working Group, our governments cooperated in June 2023 to combat the transit of illicit drugs through Operation Broader Sword”.

The Under Secretary said that the grouping was able to stop the shipment of over 500 packages to the United States from India containing illicit prescription drugs, medical devices, and synthetic precursors. The more we work together, the more we can accomplish.

Earlier in June, more than 500 shipments of prescription drugs and medical devices were seized by the US authorities in a joint operation with India.

This action was taken under ‘Operation Broader Sword’, a bilateral multi-agency enforcement operation against illicit pharmaceuticals, devices, or precursor chemicals.

Zeya pointed out that India and the US have developed a plan under the Drug Demand Reduction Sub-Working Group to provide exchanges and training between and for professionals of both countries, connecting Indian and American youth to build a global youth prevention network

“This plan has borne fruit: An Asia-Pacific Youth Forum bringing together Indian, American and other Asian and Pacific youth is now scheduled to be hosted in Kochi, India in 2024. By combining our expertise, we can share our hard-learned lessons with other nations suffering from substance use disorders,” she further said.

She said that the CNWG grouping is taking important steps to address the scourge of synthetic drugs and must continue to be resolute in its efforts.

“Through this CNWG, we are shoring up our bilateral counternarcotics relationship, developing practical policies, delivering concrete results, diminishing the public health and public security threats posed by synthetic drugs, and, most importantly, improving and saving peoples’ lives,” Zeya added.

Earlier in April, Rahul Gupta, Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy had also hailed the role of India and the US.

The US health official had said that the two counties share a robust working relationship on addressing the major challenge posed by fentanyl drugs. (By Reena Bhardwaj/ANI)

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