Apr 16, 2019

DHS considers classifying fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction

A heroin user reads an alert on fentanyl. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security has considered designating fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction in certain situations, Task & Purpose scooped yesterday.

What they're saying: "Fentanyl's high toxicity and increasing availability are attractive to threat actors seeking nonconventional materials for a chemical weapons attack," James McDonnell, a senior DHS official, wrote in a memo obtained by Task & Purpose.

Between the lines: Yes, fentanyl — which is much more potent than prescription opioids — can be deadly and, yes, it's a huge problem.

  • But the public discussion over the opioid epidemic has not to date been about opioids becoming weapons of mass destruction. And yet the administration has been discussing this possibility for years, according to the memo.

Go deeper ... CDC: Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the U.S.

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The race to catch Nike's Vaporfly shoe before the 2020 Olympics

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Four months ago, on the very same weekend, Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under two hours, and fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei shattered the women's marathon record.

Why it matters: Kipchoge and Kosgei were both wearing Nike's controversial Vaporfly sneakers, which many believed would be banned because of the performance boost provided by a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole that acted as a spring and saved the runner energy.

Go deeperArrow19 mins ago - Sports

Reassessing the global impact of the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economists are rethinking projections about the broader economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak after a surge of diagnoses and deaths outside Asia and an announcement from a top CDC official that Americans should be prepared for the virus to spread here.

What's happening: The coronavirus quickly went from an also-ran concern to the most talked-about issue at the National Association for Business Economics policy conference in Washington, D.C.

Tech can't remember what to do in a down market

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wall Street's two-day-old coronavirus crash is a wakeup alarm for Silicon Valley.

The big picture: Tech has been booming for so long the industry barely remembers what a down market feels like — and most companies are ill-prepared for one.