Kuster, Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan Extend Act
WASHINGTON—This week, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Opioid Taskforce, introduced the Extend Act – a bipartisan bill that will help the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continue to treat fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I substances. Currently this provision is set to expire in February of 2020. This legislation will extend that deadline until February of 2022. At this week’s Bipartisan Opioid Taskforce Roundtable, DEA cited that their top legislative priority was extending the February 2020 deadline.
“Synthetic opioids are extremely potent and new formulations continue to be more and more lethal – fentanyl and other illicit compounds have caused substantial harm in communities in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Rep. Kuster. “This legislation will help ensure the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has the tools it needs to address the increasing prevalence of dangerous synthetics that pose a threat to public health and safety. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this commonsense bill and I will continue working to secure critical resources and funding to help combat the opioid epidemic.”
“Fentanyl is a manufactured opioid which, — especially in its illicit versions — is extremely dangerous and illegal imports of these synthetic opioids has spiked in the past three years. Our nation's drug epidemic is a complicated issue and our response must be multi-faceted,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “The DEA needs to keep fighting these substances on the frontlines and the Extend Act will maintain a valuable tool for them to utilize.”
According to the DEA, fentanyl-related substances are 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, making it harder to detect since it can be distributed in smaller amounts. In February 2018, the DEA placed all fentanyl-related substances under Schedule I on a temporary basis for a two-year period. This action includes all fentanyl analogues as part of that class of drugs. Fentanyl analogues have additions or substitutions to the core molecule as described under the DEA temporary scheduling of fentanyl-related substances. Due to the large number of possible variations to the fentanyl molecule, there is a wide variance in potency. The bipartisan Extend Act would provide an additional 2 years for Congress and our federal agencies to work together to come up with a solution that permanently prevents fentanyl-like substances from falling out of law enforcement’s control.