As Congress contemplates the best approach to tackling the problem of overdose deaths, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced last week the Fighting Emerging Narcotics Through Additional Nations to Yield Lasting (FENTANYL) Results Act (S.B. 1160).
The FENTANYL Results Act, the brainchild of U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), seeks to improve cooperation globally to fight synthetic drug trafficking more effectively. It would do so through the authorization of two State Department programs, which would build foreign law enforcement capacity on the issue and establish an international exchange program for drug demand reduction experts.
“This bipartisan legislation will help reduce the devastating effects of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and I’m pleased it has passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” Portman said. “This legislation will strengthen State Department data collection on synthetic drug production while increasing international law enforcement capacity. This important effort will help us save lives and mitigate the devastating effects of deadly synthetic opioids, which have impacted families and communities across Ohio and our country.”
Drug overdose deaths reached 107,622 last year, the most ever for the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, another record broke between September 2019 and September 2020, when 87,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, as the nation began to struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns.
Experts have repeatedly pointed to a flood of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids driving the death toll.
“Democrats and Republicans are united on action to defeat this scourge that has taken too many lives and threatens the next generation if we do not stop the flow of this illicit drug over our borders,” Shaheen said. “I urge Senate leadership to bring our legislation to the floor for a vote so we can get this legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk.”