New CDC Numbers: Illicit Fentanyl Causes Record Deaths while the STOP Act Awaits U.S. Senate Action – President Trump Calls on Senate to Pass the STOP Act Immediately

A record 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, with the CDC attributing a surge in synthetic opioids as a driving force. The U.S. Senate can help close the international pipeline fueling America’s drug crisis by passing the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act

Washington, D.C. (August 22, 2018) – Drug overdoses killed a record 72,000 Americans in 2017, largely due to a surge in synthetic opioids, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As multiple studies cite foreign bad actors as the source of America’s synthetic opioid supply, the CDC’s latest findings underscore the urgent need for the U.S. Senate to pass the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act and send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

There is mounting pressure for the U.S. Senate to pass the STOP Act. According to the CDC’s newest report, drug overdoses killed more Americans in 2017 than the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis, car crashes or gun deaths, with synthetic opioids commonly shipped from abroad driving the worsening epidemic. And just this week, President Trump called on the U.S. Senate to promptly pass the STOP Act, to help stop deadly fentanyl from “pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China.” By bringing the STOP Act to a vote, the U.S. Senate has an opportunity – and a moral obligation – to close the global postal loophole fueling the supply of deadly, illicit drugs from abroad.

More than 1.3 million packages enter the United States through the U.S. Postal Service every day without the comprehensive advance electronic data (AED) that would allow law enforcement to identify packages containing illicit, synthetic or counterfeit drugs. While private carriers are required to provide AED – basic security information including the shipper’s name and address, the package’s weight, and a description of its contents – on all inbound international packages under the Trade Act of 2002, this information is still not required on packages shipped from foreign posts and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. As a result, international drug sellers recommend using the postal system to avoid detection and interdiction, according to a recent congressional investigation.

This vulnerability poses significant public health and national security challenges. Drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil are easily ordered online and shipped directly to Americans’ mailboxes, as overdose death rates steadily climb. While countless reports have linked America’s illicit fentanyl supply to foreign labs, more than one million packages continue to stream into the U.S. virtually unchecked every single day.

The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act would require AED on all inbound international packages and help stop the flow of deadly drugs into the U.S. from abroad. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in June, and it has gained widespread bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, including an agreement on a path forward for the bill from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and counting more than one-third of the chamber among its co-sponsors. President Trump recently called for the Senate to pass the STOP Act to stop illicit fentanyl from “killing our children and destroying our country,” and his advisors previously recommended he sign the bill, should it reach his desk.

Passing the STOP Act to require this basic security information would allow Customs and Border Protection to screen the immense volume of inbound international packages more effectively, and help close the postal loophole that’s fueling the devastation caused by America’s opioid epidemic.

“Synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil are easily shipped from abroad and are proving to be more deadly and potent than anything we’ve seen in recent history,” said Governor Tom Ridge, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “Even minimal amounts of these substances can add hundreds of Americans to the long list of casualties caused by the opioid epidemic. By passing the STOP Act, the U.S. Senate has an opportunity to help curb this crisis.”

“If the entire population of a small country was wiped out in just one year, I’d like to think that we would do something. But that’s what happened with the opioid epidemic in our own country just last year, and we still haven’t taken significant steps to end this crisis,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “We know these drugs are being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service – and there’s something our lawmakers can do about it. It’s time for the Senate to pass the STOP Act to stop these drugs from reaching our shores. It’s time we do better for the safety and security of American families.”

The STOP Act passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 353-52, and currently has 34 co-sponsors in the Senate. The legislation is endorsed by groups dedicated to fighting the opioid crisis, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the American Medical Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis also called for the bill’s passage in its final report.