Fighting opioids in the mail

OCTOBER 24, 2018

By Tom Ridge

Toward the end of the summer, I wrote in this paper about the need to attack the nationwide opioid epidemic from every possible angle. Nonprofits, local elected officials and our federal government have admirably worked on efforts ranging from reducing the stigma of addiction to tackling over-prescription. But any successes have been stymied by a failure to address the supply chain for the deadliest synthetic drugs that enter our communities every day.

Now we are finally seeing concrete action to change this. Wednesday, President Trump signed into law the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, part of a broad package of bipartisan legislation passed by Congress to fight back against the opioid epidemic. The STOP Act targets a loophole in the global postal system that international criminals have exploited for over a decade to ship deadly drugs, including powerful opioids like fentanyl, into the U.S. without detection by law enforcement. While packages sent via private carriers must include advance electronic data (AED), which Customs and Border Protection uses to screen for high-risk material, shipments sent through the international postal system and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) do not. The STOP Act brings a long-overdue solution, mandating AED on all international packages, including those delivered by USPS.