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Federal Testimonies Emphasize Risk of Missing STOP Act Deadlines

Statements from USPS Inspector General and FDA Official Demonstrate Failing to Meet STOP Act Requirements Exacerbates Nationwide Opioid Epidemic

Washington, D.C. (July 24, 2019) – In separate testimonies before the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee last week, two senior federal officials affirmed the ongoing risk of failing to meet key deadlines under the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which is designed to prevent shipments of fentanyl and other deadly opioids through the mail. The hearing, “Oversight of Federal Efforts to Combat the Spread of Illicit Fentanyl,” featured witnesses integral to the process of preventing international drug trafficking, including Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale and Carol Cave, Director of the Office of Enforcement and Import Operations at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Although the STOP Act requires the U.S. Postal service to receive advance electronic data (AED) on 100 percent of packages from China starting late last year, Barksdale testified that the agency currently only receives this data on 85 percent. A recent letter from Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) similarly found that the postal service was not meeting AED requirements for either packages from China or international packages overall, despite clear timelines outlined in the STOP Act.

With deaths due to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids continuing nationwide, not properly implementing and enforcing the STOP Act creates a major impediment for efforts to address the epidemic. During the same hearing, Carol Cave of the FDA said one of the greatest challenges for interagency efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis is “international mail facilities… and the lack of advanced data that comes in.”

“If we want our federal agencies and law enforcement to have the tools they need to effectively fight the opioid epidemic, we need comprehensive AED,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “With Americans dying every day, a delay on enforcing the STOP Act and meeting its deadlines is unacceptable. We’ve learned from these hearings that stricter oversight is needed to ensure the law works as intended, and I hope to see members of Congress address this issue head on, demanding that our federal agencies outline a clear, timely path for following the law and receiving comprehensive AED.”