US, India join forces to combat spread of synthetic drugs



India and US worked on counternarcotics strategies and pledged to combat synthetic drug production and circulation during the fourth annual U.S.-India Counternarcotics Working Group (CNWG) meeting held on Wednesday, July 19.

Top on the agenda of the meeting were drug regulatory issues, law enforcement cooperation and collaboration, coordination in multilateral forums, and drug demand reduction efforts. Delegations from both countries deliberated over these issues and recommended actions on advancing the U.S.-India drug policy relationship for the upcoming year.

This was the first CNWG after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken launched the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats earlier this month. The two delegations also discussed recommended actions on advancing the US-India drug policy relationship for the coming year. Both countries plan to expand cooperation and collaboration to disrupt the illicit production and international trafficking of illicit drugs, including synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl and amphetamine-type stimulants, and the illicit use of their precursors. Since 2020, the United States and India have been developing their counternarcotics relationship through a bilateral Counternarcotics Working Group.

During the two-day meeting, part of which was held at the White House, the two nations also discussed the three key pillars encompassed within an expanded drug policy partnership: demonstrate global leadership in countering the illicit drug production and supply chain; create a sustainable and holistic public health partnership to prevent and treat addiction, including addressing workforce shortages and skilling requirements; and advance a secure, resilient, reliable and growing pharmaceutical supply chain as a model for the world.

The meeting included representatives from the Government of India including Narcotics Control Bureau Director General S.N. Pradhan and Ambassador of India to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu, and featured participation from Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya, Ambassador to the Republic of India Eric Garcetti, the White House’s Director of National Drug Control Policy Dr. Rahul Gupta, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Lisa Johnson.

Zeya said that synthetic drugs require a global solution as they claim countless lives and significantly impact India, the US, and other countries around the world. Calling for the prevention of the spread of fentanyl and other synthetics around the world, she added that 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. Fentanyl is considered a highly potent synthetic opioid, which is primarily used as an analgesic. Since 2018, fentanyl and its analogs have led to the most drug overdose deaths in the US.

“During India’s historic State Visit, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi affirmed a vision of the United States and India as a strong partnership of democracies working together with hope, ambition, and confidence,” said National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta. “The leaders committed to strengthening our bilateral drug policy relationship, one that goes beyond just counternarcotics to one with a more forward-looking and affirmative vision – and we are working to deliver on that commitment. Together, we will prevent and treat addiction, disrupt the global trafficking of illicit drugs, and create safe, healthy, and prosperous communities for both nations.”


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