Stop Pills That Kill – Legislation To Combat The Fentanyl Crisis

According the DEA's July 2022 One Pill Can Kill Fact sheet, 40% of pills made with fentanyl contain a deadly dose of the opioid.

The U.S. overdose crisis has reached a devastating new height with more than 100,000 people dying over the last year from drug overdoses – except these overdose numbers have been skewed by the increasingly prevalent fentanyl-laced counterfeit and fake pills flooding our communities. The drug threats facing the U.S. are more pervasive and lethal than ever before with drug traffickers mass-producing and distributing synthetic fentanyl and methamphetamine in new forms – deadly, fake pills, made and deceptively marketed to look like real medicine. To make matters worse, these groups are harnessing the power of social media to bring drugs laced with fentanyl and fake prescription pills into American homes.

Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have increased more than 500 percent since 2019, up to 20 million counterfeit or fake pills by the end of 2021. Sadly, it’s only gotten worse this year. Just this summer alone, the DEA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies have reported seizing a staggering 10.2 million pills and over 980 pounds of fentanyl powder. The amount of fentanyl taken off the streets during this period is equal to more than 36 million lethal doses removed from the illegal drug supply. These fake pills have become so widely accessible and so severe that the DEA launched a public awareness campaign, One Pill Can Kill Campaign, to educate the public about this dangerous trend.

Raising awareness to the dangers of counterfeit medicines, especially those containing illicit substances and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances, is a primary objective for PSM, and we appreciate the DEA calling attention to this significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.

But law enforcement needs more to truly combat this growing threat – and U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and U.S. House Representatives Ken Buck (R-CO), David Joyce (R-OH), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), and Lou Correa (D-CA) understand just how severe it has gotten and introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation – S. 4151/H.R. 8175, Stop Pills That Kill Act ­– aimed at bolstering law enforcement resources to effectively interdict the deadly flow of illicit fentanyl into our communities.

The Stop Pills That Kill Act will take an important step in a multifaceted approach to crack down on dangerous counterfeit pills that are killing Americans in droves. It helps law enforcement combat the skyrocketing number of fentanyl-laced fake pills flooding our communities by not only requiring the DEA to create a comprehensive response plan to tackle the rise of counterfeit pills and close a sentencing loophole for illicit pill production, but also implementing new penalties for counterfeit pill production of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. Bolstering penalties and arming law enforcement with the proper resources to develop and implement a response plan will support interdiction efforts against the manufacturing, distributing, and selling of counterfeit pills and help save lives.

The Stop Pills That Kill Act will give law enforcement more tools to fight deadly counterfeit pills.

We have seen too many tragedies across the nation as a result of these counterfeit, fake, substandard, or adulterated pills containing lethal doses of illicit substances, like fentanyl and methamphetamine, and must do everything we can to fight this epidemic. With the surge in fatalities caused by these fake pills, now is the time to bolster the tools and resources available to those on the frontlines of this crisis. We must protect our communities and ensure those who are peddling this poison are met with the strongest deterrents possible.