Home » Rome draws roadmap to prevent fentanyl crisis

Rome draws roadmap to prevent fentanyl crisis

Undersecretary Mantovano presented the government’s new plan to prevent the diffusion of the synthetic drug. It hinges on prevention through a “comprehensive” approach, which also entails deeper cooperation with other nations

Rome wants to jump the fentanyl gun. There is no emergency relating to the potent synthetic drug in Italy, but the country must move to prevent it from emerging. That’s the key idea behind the government’s new National Prevention Plan against the misuse of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs, which is being paired with a crackdown on the international trade of precursor components.

  • Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano, who holds the role of Delegated Authority for the Security of the Republic, an office that includes the Prime Minister’s Anti-Drug Department, unveiled the plan during a press conference on Tuesday.
  • Ministers Orazio Schillaci (Health), Giuseppe Valditara (Education) and Andrea Abodi (Sports and Youth) were also in attendance, along with Sabina Strano Rossi, a forensic toxicologist at the Catholic University of Milan and president of the Italian Forensic Toxicologists Group.

A hidden threat… The opioid represents “a danger to the protection of public health,” as Minister Schillaci explained. “It is used for pain therapy, but its distorted use has a devastating effect. Even small doses are dangerous, so prevention is needed on the ground.” The Plan’s measures will include strengthened monitoring, enhanced controls carried out by the Carabinieri’s health division (NAS) and systems to prevent theft, including by setting regional health offices and pharmacies on high alert.

  • Preventing the spread of fentanyl “is no easy battle,” said Mr Mantovano. It only takes 2 milligrams to risk death by suffocation, the substance is easy to hide, and the world of fentanyl trafficking overlaps with that of illicit operations through the dark web and crypto payments, he explained.

… and a global one too. In November, police forces uncovered a 100,000-dose distribution centre in Piacenza acting as an intermediary between China and the US. “At a time when there are no insurmountable borders, [it’s] best not to remain vulnerable,” explained Undersecretary Mantovano. Intelligence and police forces have warned that certain Italian criminal organisations (the official name-checked the ‘Ndrangheta) are interested in entering the fentanyl market.

  • Ongoing investigations involve “contacts with suppliers in China,” he said, noting that the phenomenon is contained compared to the situation in the United States and other European countries such as Portugal.

The solution is also global. The official spoke of the need for a “comprehensive” approach, starting from the geographic level – i.e. strengthening cooperation with other States in countering organised crime and payments on the dark web. That’s why Italy joined the Global Coalition against the Synthetic Drug Threat, launched by the US in July, explained the undersecretary. Rome also decided to bring the issue to the attention of the G-7, notably the foreign ministers’ summit in Capri.

  • The approach extends to the societal level as well. Mr Mantovano called on families to double their efforts against bad influence (pointing at youth-oriented music genres). On his part, Minister Valditara said that a specific training for teachers is being set up.

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