China Leads The World in Synthetic Drug Production

Why crystal meth and synthetic psychoactives are so popular in China.

Synthetic drugs and amphetamines are more potent than ever. And the toxic-by-design substances are mostly being made in China, where the chemical ingredients are easy to come by, according to a United Nations report. 

From the report:

"East and South-East Asia and Oceania has the largest ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants) market in the world and in recent years the scope and availability of NPS (new psychoactive substances) has rapidly expanded. Moreover, this synthetic drugs market is becoming more complex and interconnected with other regions."

Synthetic substances tear apart any drug community they enter. The danger of these drugs is in part found in the fluidity of most of these drug formulas––as one chemical is banned, the substance-makers substitute the ingredient with basically whatever is available, and not-yet-banned. 

As production in the region increases, so does consumption, according to the report. "Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic shift in the types of drugs that people use. The marketplace for drugs in Hong Kong is much more diverse now," a University of Hong Kong researcher told Al Jazeera.

From the U.N.:

"Information on seizures and use indicate that the market for both forms of methamphetamine is expanding. Both, methamphetamine tablet and crystalline methamphetamine seizures increased in East and South-East Asia between 2008 and 2013. . .A derivative of Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller, is now being produced cheaply in China and with an effect authorities believe to be 100 times stronger than heroin."

Meanwhile, a different synthetic new opioid, called U-47700 is said to be responsible for as many as 50 deaths nationwide.