Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act. This legislation makes permanent the temporary classification of fentanyl analogs under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). With fentanyl analog overdoses at an all-time high, making up 64 percent of total U.S. overdose deaths, its current Schedule I classification is set to expire February 18, 2022.
This legislation also removes barriers that impede the ability of researchers to conduct studies on these substances and allows for exemptions if such research provides evidence that it would be beneficial for specific analogs to be classified differently than Schedule I, such as for medical purposes.
“The opioid epidemic continues to touch every state and every community,” said Senator Burr. “Unfortunately during the pandemic, we’ve seen a staggering increase in drug overdose deaths, primarily caused by extremely potent and deadly fentanyl related substances. One way we can help to curb the influx of fentanyl on the illicit drug market is to deter producers in China and traffickers from Mexico from favoring these lethal products. This legislation will do just that by classifying fentanyl related substances as Schedule I, enabling law enforcement to prosecute distribution and supply chains and keeping American communities safe from this deadly drug.”
“Chinese fentanyl is fueling the overdose epidemic, flooding through our southern border with the help of the drug cartels.” said Dr. Cassidy. “Fentanyl is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. To ensure law enforcement has the tools to combat this trend, we cannot let this Schedule I classification lapse.”
Fentanyl, a highly lethal synthetic opioid with a high abuse potential, is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
From April 2020 to April 2021, a record breaking 100,306 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses. The surge was primarily fueled by illegal fentanyl. Average monthly fentanyl seizures in 2021 are up 258 percentcompared to 2018 to 2020. The raw materials for synthetic opioids are supplied from China and largely manufactured in Mexico.
Representatives Bob Latta (OH-05) and Morgan Griffith (VA-09) also introduced companion legislation today in the House of Representatives.