Press Releases

Kuster, Blunt Rochester, Bacon Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Address Fentanyl Crisis

**A new CDC report found that drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl have increased nearly four-fold in recent years**


Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) led Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) and Don Bacon (NE-02) in introducing the STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act, bipartisan legislation to ramp up our public health response to the opioid epidemic. Kuster and Blunt Rochester, who sit on the prominent Energy and Commerce Committee, are leading the charge to address the overdose crisis that affects every community across the country. Senator Edward Markey (MA) introduced the Senate companion legislation earlier this month.


“As the mental health and substance use disorder crisis continues to evolve, so must our national response,” said Rep. Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to bolster our national response to the overdose epidemic and connect individuals with treatment and recovery programs. We cannot turn our backs on those struggling with substance use disorder, and I will continue working across the aisle to address this crisis that impacts communities nationwide.”


"The opioid epidemic, now driven by fentanyl, remains one of the greatest public health threats facing Americans. Delaware is one of the states hardest hit by drug overdoses, with fentanyl responsible for most of these deaths," said Rep. Blunt Rochester. "At the center of each overdose is a person who has lost their life, and it's time for Congress to focus on strategies to address the supply and demand factors driving the use of deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. That's why I'm proud to introduce the STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act, a public health package that will give communities the tools to comprehensively address this epidemic through education, prevention, and treatment."


“Thousands of families across the country are feeling the loss of loved ones due to fentanyl overdoses. We can help stop this by expanding testing for fentanyl, identifying public health threats, and preventing overdoses,” said Rep. Bacon. “The STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act will address these issues and hopefully provide some comfort to these families.”


“Reality Check applauds expanded access to medication for overdose reversal and increased grant funding for overdose education,” said Mary Drew, MS, MEd, CPS, Founder and CEO of Reality Check. “Our organization works to provide comprehensive drug and alcohol services to reduce use and addiction and help save lives. Thank you to Congresswoman Kuster for leading this legislation that will help in our mission to address the substance use crisis in New Hampshire.”


The STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act would take concrete steps forward to address the substance use crisis and change our national approach by:


  • Expanding testing for fentanyl and related substances and increasing information sharing by public health departments and law enforcement for the purpose of identifying public health threats and preventing overdoses;
  • Providing grant funding to compile overdose data through the CDC and facilitate surveillance of seized heroin, fentanyl, and associated synthetic drugs by forensic laboratories;
  • Improving accessibility to overdose reversal medications and ensuring they are more available across the country;
    • This is a change from the original version of the legislation.
  • Limiting civil and criminal liability under specified laws for individuals who administer opioid overdose reversal medication to an individual who reasonably appears to be experiencing an overdose;
  • Establishing a program to offer medication treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) to individuals who are incarcerated;
  • Providing grant funding to states and local government entities to educate health care providers, criminal justice professionals, and substance use disorder treatment personnel on the current state of research on treatment for opioid dependence; and
  • Requiring reporting that will help to enhance surveillance, prevention, and treatment efforts, including a report on naloxone access and affordability, international mail and cargo screening, and overdose prevention centers.    


This legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Trone (D-MD), Tonko (D-NY), Barragán (D-CA), Panetta (D-CA), Allred (D-TX), Trahan (D-MA), Pettersen (D-CO), Norcross (D-NJ), Cardenas (D-CA), and Craig (D-MN).


This bipartisan bill has been endorsed by a diverse coalition, including the Drug Policy Alliance, the American Psychological Association, the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, Partnership to End Addiction, the Association for Multidisciplinary Education and Research in Substance Use and Addiction (AMERSA), and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association.