US must work with China and Mexico “much more aggressively” to stop the flow of fentanyl: Portman on the opioid crisis

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EXCLUSIVE: Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, pledges to keep pressure on the Biden administration to tackle the opioid crisis head-on by working more aggressively with Mexico and China to stop the trafficking of drug, and urging for a greater awareness campaign by the federal government about the “fake pills” containing fentanyl, which are killing Americans at an all-time high.

The United States passed 100,000 overdose deaths in one year between April 2020 and April 2021, marking another terrible milestone in American history. In addition, in October alone, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a 42% increase in seizure of the deadliest opioid, fentanyl.

The Biden administration has been criticized by Portman and other lawmakers, for apparently putting the opioid crisis on the back burner during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the staggering number of overdose deaths.

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In an exclusive interview with Fox News Wednesday, Portman said. “When you have a hundred thousand dead, there is a lot of other collateral damage. It’s not about the deaths of people, but these are people who lose their way in life. “

Portman, who has led the charge in Congress against the opioid crisis for decades, stressed the importance of a three-pronged approach to tackling the epidemic that the Biden administration should immediately begin to implement: supply to the United States through the border, prevention, including increased awareness campaigns and treatment and recovery efforts.

Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, interviews Homeland Security candidate Alejandro Mayorkas during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Tuesday, January 19, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington . (Bill Clark / Pool via AP)
((Bill Clark / Pool via AP))

The senator explained that previously, China sent fentanyl to the United States directly by post, but after the passage of the bipartite law on the trafficking of synthetic products and the prevention of overdose (STOP) in 2018, which has increased drug detection methods, the country has reduced this method. entry and is now shipping fentanyl precursors to Mexico and India to be developed and marketed in the United States

“So [the Biden administration] need to tighten it, and that means working with China, working with Mexico a lot more aggressively and tightening the border, ”Portman continued.“ And I think they should do a huge prevention campaign. “

Portman said the discussion of stopping the flow of fentanyl “should be top of the list in all bilateral discussions,” because the United States knows that China is still sending illegal fentanyl to the United States and donating the chemical ingredients in Mexico for him to manufacture. drugs.

“The point I would like to make to the Chinese authorities is… ‘you are killing my constituents,’” Portman continued.

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The Ohio senator also told Fox News that his office plans to review social media sites, such as Snapchat and others, which provide platforms for Americans to purchase “fake pills” containing fentanyl, which are fatal and increasingly common.

“Mexico does [fentanyl] into different products, often squeezing them into pills, fake pills, which is just a tragedy. People will take a pill they think is Xanax or a Percocet and it’s actually fentanyl, or it’s mixed with fentanyl, and they die. And they weren’t planning on taking fentanyl, ”Portman said.

The senator said this could be an opportunity for these social media sites to provide information and educate people about the dangers of buying pills that are not directly from a pharmacy.

For the first time in six years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a public safety alert on the dangers of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. The announcement came after more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized by the DEA in 2021, more than 2020 and 2019 combined.

“The DEA’s Public Safety Alert, the first in six years, aims to raise awareness of a nationwide significant increase in counterfeit pills that are being mass produced by criminal drug rings in laboratories, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate, ”the September 27 announcement read.

A family-owned non-profit organization founded by Mary and Ed Ternan, Song for Charlie, is dedicated to raising awareness of fake ‘fentapill pills’ after the death of their eldest college son, Charlie, who purchased a fake Percocet pill online in 2020 and tragically passed away.

Portman told Fox News that an Ohio mother, Virginia Krieger, also lost her 26-year-old daughter, Tiffany, to an accidental overdose. Tiffany also bought a fake Percocet pill and unintentionally overdosed because it contained fentanyl and heroin, Portman said.

The senator previously said that “no one should ever take a pill unless they know it came from a pharmacy,” and urges the Biden administration to work with the private sector and big drug companies to launch a bigger awareness campaign on the dangers of fake pills, especially for adolescents and students.

In November, Biden broke the 100,000 overdose death mark when he said his administration was committed to fighting drug addiction and ending the drug epidemic.

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“We’re working to make health coverage more accessible and affordable for all Americans, so more people in need of care can get it.” the supply of harmful substances in our communities. And we won’t give up, ”Biden said in a written statement last month.

A fake heroin pill collected by the DEA.

A fake heroin pill collected by the DEA.
(DEA )

However, despite Biden’s pledge to reduce the supply of opioids in the United States, Portman said the Biden administration could work more closely with his office and others on Capitol Hill on the many bills he has to deal with. ‘they prepared to make fentanyl illegal, permanently programming the drug. and its analogues as a Schedule I substance. The senator said the administration continues to push back permanent schedules, making it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs.

The temporary programming of all fentanyl-related substances, which was a policy adopted under the Trump administration, expires on January 28, 2022.

Maria D. Ervin