March 30, 2023

Cassidy, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Combat Illegal Fentanyl, Improve Research

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) today reintroduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act. This legislation makes permanent the temporary classification of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Drug overdoses, largely driven by fentanyl, are the leading cause of death among young adults 18 to 45 years old. Synthetic opioids like Fentanyl account for 66 percent of the total U.S. overdose deaths and the drug’s Schedule I classification is set to expire after 2024.

“The crisis at the southern border provides the perfect avenue for drug cartels to smuggle Chinese fentanyl into the U.S. fueling the overdose epidemic,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We must ensure law enforcement has the tools necessary to combat this trend and we cannot let this Schedule I classification lapse.”

“Fentanyl entering the United States through our southern border is hitting Hoosiers and communities across our nation hard,” said Senator Young. “This bill will permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I, enabling law enforcement to better combat the impact of this deadly drug.”

“The lawlessness at our southern border is allowing lethal fentanyl to flow freely into our country, killing Americans at an alarming rate every day,” said Senator Marshall. “The HALT Fentanyl Act will help save lives and protect our communities and children. Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines of this crisis. We must do everything we can to empower them with the tools to fight against this deadly epidemic, that starts with permanently making fentanyl a Schedule I controlled substance.”  

The 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.

From August 2021 to August 2022, a record-breaking 107,735 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses. The surge was primarily fueled by synthetic opioids, including illegal fentanyl, which are largely manufactured in Mexico from raw materials supplied by China. In 2022, there were over 50.6 million fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), more than doubling the amount seized in 2021.