Congress Passes Opioid Epidemic Legislative Package

by Nikki Semenza, PSM Legislative Consultant

In the midst of an epidemic of counterfeit medication reaching 44 states and killing Americans in 26 states, the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is pleased that Congress and the Administration have taken action in providing critical resources to agencies and communities to slow the flow of counterfeit medicines and fentanyl into the United States.  


The comprehensive 660-page opioid package entitled H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, provides important tools and resources for opioid use disorder prevention and recovery and treatment, as well as authorizes or reauthorizes important law enforcement programs and tools. The bipartisan, bicameral bill has been worked on by eight committees in the House and five committees in the Senate.


The approximately $8 billion package includes provisions on developing new non-addictive painkillers, improving prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers. PSM is thrilled that H.R. 6 includes the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. This legislation requires mail shipped through foreign posts to send the same advance electronic data (AED) that is already required for private carrier (i.e. FedEx, UPS) shipments. At present, only about 36 percent of incoming packages include AED.


The new law requires 70 percent of all mail and 100 percent of all mail from China to provide this important data in advance. AED will enable Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to more effectively target and intercept suspicious shipments of dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The overall volume of packages coming into the country is so voluminous that American inspectors must use analytics to determine which packages are more or less likely to contain fentanyl.


These sorts of analytics are also used in law enforcement settings to help discover how to maximize finite resources on areas that warrant the most suspicion. H.R. 6 has many other provisions that will certainly help law enforcement in areas that PSM is not working on, and we hope the passage of H.R. 6 marks a significant milestone on the fight against the opioid crisis and with it against dangerous counterfeit drugs.