Every day over one hundred Americans die of a drug-related overdose. Increasingly more and more of these fatalities are caused by extremely potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. A report by the CDC found that opioid overdoses took the lives of 33,091 Americans in 2015. Deaths from synthetic opioids are not isolated in one geographic area, confined to one ethnicity, or limited to one age group. It is truly an epidemic that has already taken too many lives.
We have seen a dramatic increase in opioid related deaths largely due to more potent compounds being used in the most commonly trafficked counterfeit drugs. In a famous case, Popstar Prince died from taking what he thought was the painkiller Oxycodone, but actually was a counterfeit containing fentanyl. That’s a deadly synthetic opioid, many times more powerful than morphine, that is often illegally mixed into prescription drugs or heroin.
An alarming aspect of the opioid crisis is the relative ease with which a user can acquire these counterfeit drugs. As it stands, shipments from foreign countries are not required to submit any data or information about the packages they are shipping into the US through the Postal Service. Unlike shipping companies FedEx and UPS, the Postal Service requires no advance information about what is being shipped and from where the package originates. This loophole is being taken advantage of by counterfeit drug manufacturers to ship dangerous opioids to doorsteps all over the country.
To combat this illegal trafficking, Rep. Pat Tiberi has been working with a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives on the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. The STOP act gives agents at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the information they need to stop drug trafficking through the mail. The legislation will require advance customs data to be submitted to CBP for any and all packages originating in foreign countries. With information about who is sending/receiving packages and a declaration of the contents, CBP will be able to better target and screen mail for these illegal substances. This is about more than stopping illegal trafficking, this is about saving lives.
The Republican Main Street Partnership is excited to get to work on moving this legislation forward. Working closely with Representative Tiberi, our organization will do everything it can to support this important legislation.
Opioid abuse is without a doubt an epidemic. This bill closes a major loophole to make it harder for these drugs to illegally reach our homes. It is not a partisan issue and it should not be contentious, the STOP Act has one mission and that is to save American lives.