Medical Technology

Congress Review Biden’s proposal to Regulate Fentanyl

Federal officials are insisting on a U.S. House Committee to support President Joe Biden’s proposal to tighten regulations for all fentanyl-related substances. One of them calls it the most dangerous drug he’s ever seen.

In September, the Biden administration suggested that all fentanyl-related substances should be permanently classified under Schedule I drugs. These drugs are not intended to be used for medical purposes and therefore are considered to be unfit for use in medical facilities. Anyone who is found guilty of selling Schedule I drugs, which also include heroin and LSD can be sentenced to an imprisonment sentence of up to 40 years.

Biden’s proposal also includes creating an easier procedure for researchers to obtain all Schedule I substances, including fentanyl to conduct research. According to testimony from National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers must obtain federal approval to obtain the drugs. They must also implement extra security, making it harder to test and study.

In November the CDC announced that drug overdose deaths in America surpassed 100,000 in the 12-month period ending April. This is a 28.5 percent increase from the same period last year.

Research suggests that the recent spike in overdose deaths was caused by the illegal production of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. The CDC discovered that synthetic opioids, which are mostly fentanyl-related, in 2019 made up 73% of all opioid-involved death cases.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving with the DEA for more than 20 years. Louis Milione, principal deputy administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration, stated that he has never seen anything as deadly as fentanyl during Thursday’s hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Fentanyl is often mixed with other illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and with fake prescription pills which create a powerful, lethal combination that has been linked to deaths from overdoses according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

According to the DEA the DEA, more than 9.5 million fake fentanyl pills were seized in the U.S. between Sept. 27 and 27 of this year. This is more than the previous two years.

New England health officials have issued warnings regarding fentanyl-laced cannabis. There have been 39 instances of overdoses reported in Connecticut since July. To stop these overdoses, you’ll have to take Naloxone. All of the individuals who were involved claimed they had were using marijuana. Similar incidents have been reported in Vermont.

Milione of the DEA said permanently placing fentanyl-related substances into Schedule I would make it easier for the agency to take control of substances before they are brought into the country. According to the DEA, illegal fentanyl is mainly made in foreign labs and then smuggled into America via Mexico.

“It is absolutely necessary to regulate substances that are yet to be made and yet to be accessible in our communities,” Kemp Chester, senior adviser at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, testified Thursday.

Nearly 100 advocacy groups wrote a letter to Congress in October protesting the plan, arguing that the government should invest in public health solutions –prevention of harm and treatment instead of wide criminalization. They warned that the proposed legislation will increase racial inequities. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 68% of people sentenced for fentanyl related substances in 2019 were people of race.

Rep. George Butterfield, D-NC, also said he was concerned that people of color would be disproportionally affected by stricter scheduling.

Chester acknowledged that “we could cause unintended harm through this scheduling” however, he pointed out that the proposal would eliminate mandatory minimal sentences for fentanyl-related substances.

Details of changes planned for the Schedule I research registration process can be found in the testimony submitted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Biden administration has invested $4 billion into the American Rescue Plan this year to improve access to substance use disorder services including $30 million for harm reduction -ways to recognize the dignity of people who use drugs and bring them into a community of care.

Organizations now have access to federally-funded fentanyl test strips, which can help to identify fentanyl found in other drugs the CDC announced in April.

Rural communities and other marginalized communities, such as prisons and jails are now able to access treatment. The DEA removed the separate registration requirements in June, which was mandated by a 10-year moratorium.

On Tuesday, New York City authorized two supervised injection sites, which would provide clean needles, naloxone to reverse overdoses and other addiction treatment options.

For fiscal 2022, Biden administration has suggested spending $41 billion to combat the overdose epidemic, which includes $10.7 billion for harm reduction and recovery support services.


Hearing, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Dec. 2, 2021

White House: “Biden-Harris Administration Offers Recommendations to Congress on reducing the use of illicit Fentanyl-related Substances,” “Biden-Harris Administration Calls for Historic Levels of Funding to Prevent and Treat Addiction and Overdose.”

CDC: “Top 100,000 Drug Overdose Deaths in America Every Year,”” “Opioid Analysis and Resources,” Federal Grantees May Now Use Federal Funds to Purchase Fentanyl Test Strips.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse Fentanyl DrugFacts

Drug Enforcement Administration: “DEA Issues a Public Safety Warning on the sharply increasing use of fake prescription pills containing Fentanyl and Meth,” “DEA Finalizes Measures to expand Medication-Assisted Therapy.”

WCAX: “Authorities investigate whether marijuana has been coated with Fentanyl.”

Human Rights Watch: “Nearly 100 organizations oppose Biden’s plan to make a misguided temporary drug criminalization policy permanent.”

United States Sentencing Commission: Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues

The New York Times The New York Times “Nation’s First Supervised Drug Injection Sites Open in New York.”

The Sacramento Bee: “California Fentanyl-related deaths increased during the pandemic. Biden’s plan to tackle it.

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