WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent letters to six federal agencies today requesting briefings on the illicit flow of fentanyl into American communities as part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the public health threat posed by the deadly synthetic opioid.
The bipartisan Committee leaders sent briefing requests to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The letters were signed by Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr (D-NJ), Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
“As overdose deaths involving fentanyl continue to rise, we remain concerned about the impact of this epidemic on the public health, and we are committed to identifying further solutions to stop the flow of deadly illicit fentanyl into our communities,” the bipartisan Committee leaders wrote in each of the letters. “Therefore, to assist the Committee’s investigation, please provide a briefing on these issues to Committee staff.”
Last year, H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, passed through the Energy and Commerce Committee and was signed into law. The bill gave the FDA more tools to intercept illicit drugs coming through our nation’s international mail facilities, including fentanyl shipped to the United States by mail from China.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released data showing that there were over 47,000 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in 2017 and 28,000 of those deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl – an increase of nearly 47 percent from the previous year. The CDC referred to the surge in synthetic opioid deaths as the “third wave” of the national opioid epidemic.
Click here to read the letters.