Laboratories in China are becoming a significant source of synthetic drug production, according to Time.com. Drugs produced in China can easily be shipped to North America or Europe, using international courier services.
Chinese chemists are staying one step ahead of law enforcement, creating new variations of substances in anticipation of current versions being declared illegal. Wynbo Shi, Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager for a chemical inspection and regulation service, says dozens of labs in China produce synthetic drugs without meaningful government regulation.
In June, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report that concluded the increasing popularity of designer drugs is an alarming public health problem. The number of new synthetic drugs rose by more than 50 percent in less than three years, the report states.
The drugs are a particular cause for concern because in many places they are legal, and are sold openly on the Internet. They have not been tested for safety, and can be much more dangerous than traditional drugs, according to the UNODC. The harmless names of the drugs, such as “spice” and “bath salts,” encourage young people to think they are low-risk fun. “The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood,” the agency wrote in its 2013 World Drug Report.