New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that China's exports are fentanyl are killing dozens of Americans each day and said more money is needed to prevent the dangerous opioid from entering the country.
“You are sending this into our country to kill our people,” Christie said of China at a Tuesday hearing of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee in Baltimore, Md.
Christie led a commission that sent a report to President Trump on how to combat the opioid epidemic, which federal data shows kills 71 Americans a day.
Fentanyl is a drug that is more potent than heroin had has been responsible for spiking of opioid deaths in recent years. A major problem has been that synthetic versions of the drug have been hitting the streets.
“The first use can lead to death,” Christie said. “It is so lethal that law enforcement officers who come to crime scenes have to be careful.”
Christie called fentanyl a “Chinese problem,” since most of it comes from China. Christie called for an increase in border security and from the U.S. Postal Service to crack down on shipments.
“We don’t have the level of enforcement needed,” he said.
The death rate from synthetic painkillers like fentanyl skyrocketed by 73 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
China banned the manufacture and sale of four variations of the drug in March, according to CNN. But federal authorities still report that they can get fentanyl from China. For instance, federal authorities recently bought fentanyl off the dark web back in May, and the drugs were shipped from China.
Christie said more funding needed to fight the epidemic. He pointed to the $1 billion made available in the 21st Century Cures Act last year, but he said that isn’t anywhere near enough.
“In New Jersey, we are spending $500 million,” he said. “I am not, quite frankly, impressed with $1 billion from the federal government for the nation.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said a major problem is the price of an overdose antidote called naloxone.
“The price was jacked up at the very time that first responders were trying to get it,” he said.
Christie responded that he wants all first responders to have naloxone. He said the best way is to get federal and local governments to band together to make bulk purchases of naloxone at a lower price.
“We do this in other areas through bulk purchasing. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to do this with naloxone,” he said.