April 24, 2018

Cassidy, Baldwin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop the Flow of Illicit Opioids into the U.S. by Mail

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), members of the Senate Health Committee, today introduced the Restricting Entrance and Strengthening the Requirements on Import Controls for Trafficking (RESTRICT) Illicit Drugs Act, bipartisan legislation to stop the flow of illegal opioids, fentanyl, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs into the country through International Mail Facilities (IMFs). The legislation would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more tools to prevent illegal drugs from entering the country by mail.

The legislation is also sponsored by Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and was included in the Opioid Crisis Response Act, a bipartisan legislative package to bolster the federal response to the opioid epidemic that passed out of the Senate Health Committee today.

“To combat the opioid epidemic, we need a ‘do everything’ response that addresses all sources of illegal drugs flooding our streets,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation strengthens coordination between the FDA and Customs and Border Patrol to better stop illegal opioids at the point of entry.”

“The opioid epidemic is devastating families and communities throughout Wisconsin and a key way to help prevent this is to stop more illicit drugs like fentanyl, meth and illegal opioids from coming into this country. I’m introducing this commonsense bipartisan legislation with Senator Cassidy to strengthen our control over the flow of illicit drugs from other counties into America,” said Baldwin. “One of my top priorities for Wisconsin right now is increasing the federal investment to help fight the opioid crisis, and making sure we are doing everything we can to help local health and law enforcement officials in Wisconsin with prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.”

In 2016, 63,632 Americans died from drug overdoses, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the increase in overdose deaths is driven largely by deaths from synthetic opioids and illicit fentanyl. Reports show that the synthetic opioid related overdose death rate more than doubled in 2016. China is the primary source of fentanyl in the U.S., with many of these illicit drugs coming through International Mail Facilities (IMFs). More than 340 million packages reach the U.S. every year through IMFs from more than 180 countries. It is estimated that only a small percentage of the illicit drugs smuggled through IMFs is currently intercepted.

The RESTRICT Illicit Drugs Act modernizes our ability to stop the importation of illegal drugs by:

– Strengthening coordination and efficiency between the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by clarifying CBP’s role in managing the admission, refusal or destruction process of any counterfeit drug product or package containing a controlled substance.

– Allowing the FDA to debar, or stop, individuals or companies convicted of an FDA-related felony from continued shipments, in order to prevent companies who have been caught shipping illegal substances from gaming the system and operating under a new name.

– Enhancing the FDA’s authority to refuse admission of illegal drugs from entities that have been de-barred as a result of an FDA-related felony.