WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today released a statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the companion bill to Cassidy’s 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).
“The crisis at the southern border provides easy access for drug cartels to smuggle Chinese fentanyl into the U.S. fueling the overdose epidemic,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Glad to see the House take this step to ensure law enforcement has the tools necessary to combat this growing emergency. We cannot let Schedule I classification lapse.”
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 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.