Press Releases

Bipartisan Opioid Task Force Holds Roundtable on Threat Posed by Fentanyl, Synthetic Opioids

The roundtable can be viewed here.

Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), founding co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, led Members in hosting a roundtable to discuss the threat posed by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and the efforts being taken to counter that threat. Since 2013, the United States has been in the “third wave” of the opioid epidemic, with fentanyl leading to a record level of overdose deaths. In New Hampshire, nearly 400 people died from overdoses related to synthetic drugs like fentanyl in 2017.

The Task Force was joined by:

  • Kemp Chester, Assistant Director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • James Walsh, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the U.S. Department of State
  • Bryce Pardo, Ph.D., Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation
  • Margaret A. E. Jarvis, M.D., Distinguished Fellow at the American Society of Addiction Medicine

“The proliferation of synthetic opioids across the United States has turned our nation’s heroin and opioid crisis into one of the worst public health emergencies in recent memory,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “It is critical that Congress understands the significance and potency of these drugs, which are less expensive and easier to sell than non-synthetic opioids. I thank the officials and experts who joined us for a productive conversation to increase awareness about these dangerous substances. I’ll continue working to ensure our communities have the information and resources they need to combat the opioid epidemic.”

Kuster has pushed for increased funding for New Hampshire to address the opioid epidemic and helped announce $22.9 million in additional funding for the state. Last year, Kuster cosponsored the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, which was signed into law as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and controls the flow of synthetic opioids into the United States from countries like China

The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has been a driver of Congressional action to take on the opioid crisis. In addition to the policies included in the comprehensive opioid package, the Task Force successfully passed the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, the INTERDICT Act and the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act. The Task Force also successfully pushed for the inclusion of $1 billion in funding as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to address the opioid epidemic and helped advance $6 billion in new opioid funding as part of the FY 2018 government funding bill.