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August 23, 2018

Miller urges Congress to close deadly fentanyl loophole

Bipartisan group of AGs support SOFA Act 

Des Moines -- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, as part of a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general, called on Congress today to help end the opioid epidemic and close a loophole that allows those who traffic deadly fentanyl to stay a step ahead of law enforcement.

“Overdoses from fentanyl-related substances are rising, in part because opioid users have no idea what they’re consuming,” Miller said. “Doctors have described these drugs as ‘chemical weapons.’”

The attorneys general sent a letter to Congress today in support of S. 1553 and H.R. 4922, Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance, and when used as prescribed by a doctor, it can be a safe painkiller. But manufacturers can alter the drug to create analogues to avoid classification as illegal or prevent detection in standard drug tests.

Fatal overdoses from fentanyl analogues nearly doubled from the second half of 2016 to the first half of 2017, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

If passed by Congress, the SOFA Act would eliminate the current loophole that keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogue and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply. The SOFA Act uses catch-all language that will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to quickly list all newly modified fentanyl analogues as Schedule I drugs.

The SOFA Act makes fentanyl analogues illegal as soon they are manufactured, which occurs most in countries without adequate controls.

In addition to Iowa, the other attorneys general who signed the letter were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  

Under Miller, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has embarked on a multipronged effort to address opioid abuse in Iowa, including educating citizens and medical professionals. The office is also playing a major role in a multistate investigation into the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs as part of a widespread probe into the nation’s opioid epidemic.

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