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

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

8 states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project (CTP) and state health departments. Montana, West Virginia, and Wyoming surpassed records from the previous week.

Why it matters: Cases and hospitalizations are rising in Michigan, a state that initially fought the pandemic with strict mitigation efforts, alongside states that took less action against the spread of the virus this spring.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Herd immunity claims by top Trump adviser are "pseudoscience," infectious-disease expert says.
  2. Map: 38 states, D.C. see surge in cases.
  3. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — Fauci says he's "absolutely not" surprised Trump got coronavirus.
  4. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  5. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  6. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

The Fed is starting to question its own policies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several officials at the Fed are beginning to worry about asset bubbles and excessive risk-taking as a result of their extraordinary policy interventions, James Politi writes for the Financial Times, citing interviews with multiple Fed presidents and members of the Board of Governors.

Details: Some are now pushing for "tougher financial regulation" as concerns grow that monetary policy is "encouraging behavior detrimental to economic recovery and creating pressure for additional bailouts."