More Tennesseans Died of Opioid Crisis Than Crashes
Saturday, November 16, 2019 8:07 am
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced that last year more Tennesseans died from opioid overdoses than were killed in car crashes. That is why he cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would designate all types of fentanyl as Schedule 1 narcotics.
"Fentanyl - a synthetic opioid that can be 50 times stronger than heroin - was the leading cause of these opioid related deaths." Alexander said. "The opioid crisis is ravaging Tennessee communities, and permanently designating all forms of fentanyl as controlled substances, which the bill I cosponsored does, will save thousands of lives."
"Last year, I led a delegation of five senators and two members of the House of Representatives to Beijing to meet with senior Chinese government officials. At the urging of U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, we made fentanyl and the opioid crisis the primary point of our visit. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, almost all the illicit fentanyl coming to the United States is produced in China. President Trump in an earlier meeting spoke with the Chinese president about this. China had already taken steps to stem the flow of fentanyl into our country by controlling 25 different substances of fentanyl," Alexander said.
He continued, "We asked the Chinese officials, including the Premier, to control all forms of fentanyl to allow Chinese narcotics agents to go after anyone in China who uses or produces fentanyl illegally or improperly."
Senator Alexander concluded, "So China, working with the Trump Administration, took the first step in May by making the selling of fentanyl subject to the maximum penalty under Chinese law. Now it is time for Congress to do the same and permanently classify all forms of fentanyl as Schedule I here in the United States."
Fentanyl-like substances (analogues) can be created by modifying the chemical structure of fentanyl to escape law enforcement scrutiny, including manufacturing, distribution, importation and exportation. The legislation Alexander cosponsored would make fentanyl analogues Schedule 1 narcotics. Scheduling fentanyl analogues as Schedule I narcotics would place the most stringent restrictions on the distribution of these substances, and allow for strict law enforcement penalties, including criminal penalties.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, for the 12-month period ending October of 2018 reached 30,511, more than triple the corresponding data for the period ending October of 2015.
The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act was introduced by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and is cosponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).