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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As the worst addiction crisis in American history has shifted from prescription painkillers to heroin and now to illegal synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the death toll and drug dealers' profits have risen together.

Some perspective from a Bloomberg dive into the fentanyl supply chain: A pair of undercover detectives were able to buy a kilogram of fentanyl from China for $3,800. Once turned into tablet form and resold on the street, that’s enough to yield more than $30 million in profit.

  • A kilo of heroin, by contrast, would turn a mere 400% profit — and it’s a lot harder to get.

Fentanyl is incredibly potent. So a little bit of raw supply can go a long way. And it’s synthesized unpredictably, making it hard to know how much you’re taking (and thus more likely to overdose).

  • It’s also easy to synthesize, and China only recently outlawed some forms of fentanyl. For years, manufacturers have been shipping illicit compounds across the globe, including into the U.S., without violating Chinese law, Bloomberg writes.

“The two countries play by different rules,” Markos Kounalakis, a visiting fellow at Stanford University, told Bloomberg. “What’s bad for America is not necessarily bad for China.”

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
27 mins ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.