On January 29th, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed S. 3201, the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, which extends the temporary classification of fentanyl analogs as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CDA) for 15-months.
A bipartisan initiative, the bill was led by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maragaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
S. 3201 passed unanimously in the Senate on January 16th. The bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.
According to the CDC, between 2017 and 2018, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, including fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol increased from 9.0 to 9.9.
Due to the recent explosion of fentanyl and fentanyl-related fatalities, the DEA issued an emergency declaration in 2018, which is set to expire on February 6, 2020, to create a class-wide scheduling system for fentanyl analogs. This extension helps prevent drug traffickers from avoiding criminal prosecution by simply changing one or more molecules in the chemical compound of a drug, thereby creating a substance that is not on Schedule I. If enacted, this legislation would extend the emergency scheduling through May 6, 2021.
The passage of the legislation combined with the latest CDC numbers, a 4.6% decrease of drug overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018, brings hope to the nation that we are moving in the right direction. We heard from families devastated by the crisis as to why S. 3201 is important and are committed to fighting back.
In advance of the House of Represenatives’s consideration of S. 3201, the Addiction Policy Forum sent a letter to House leadership, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee urging for the passage of this legislation and not allowing the temporary ban to expire. We are pleased that Congress passed this legislation, as it is an important tool in the fight to end addiction.