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FDA to Increase focus on fentanyl and other synthetic opioids at postal facilities

The Food and Drug Administration is reinforcing its effort to detect opioids which make its way into the country illegally via mail. This comes as a result of the alarming concerns being raised about synthetic fentanyl swamping the country as well as similar drugs being shipped from China and other places.

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of The Food and Drug Administration made some comments internally on Thursday so a group of senior managers stating that, he was placing about three dozen employees to international mail facilities run by the U.S. Postal Service to aid in detecting and analyzing suspicious packages, as well as to the FDA’s cybercrime and forensic-chemistry units.

“Given the scope of the opioid crisis, and the risk posed by these synthetic drugs, it’s my belief that we need to devote even more resources and attention to these risks,” said Gottlieb, who has made the opioid crisis a top priority in his brief tenure as FDA head.

The U.S has been battling an opioid crisis for quite some time now and the FDA has made many efforts so far to tackle the situation which is getting out of hand. Many have till now voiced out their displeasure in the growing number of casualties caused by the use of opioids.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in June proposed a 20 percent reduction in the manufacture of certain commonly prescribed opioid painkillers and other controlled substances for next year.

The proposal came as U.S. regulators and lawmakers look to step up their game to limit the supply of opioids, a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers and heroin – to combat the epidemic of abuse, overdose, and addiction.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, which organizes drugs into groups based on the risk of abuse or harm, most opioids come under the Schedule II category. The higher the category, the smaller the risk.

The request for certain Schedule II opioid painkillers including morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone has dropped after the imposition of measures such as prescription-drug monitoring programs, the DEA said.

Earlier in June, General Jeff Sessions the U.S. Attorney unveiled a plan to go after doctors and pharmacies suspected of health care fraud by over-prescribing opioids.

Over 90 Americans die daily after overdosing on opioids with drug overdoses now surpassing deaths caused by gun homicides and car crashes combined, according to a White House commission formed to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis.

This misuse of and addiction to opioids which includes prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has been a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare of people in the U.S

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

“Think what we would do in this country if Zika and Ebola were taking 100 lives every single day,” said Gary Mendell, the CEO of Shatterproof, a nonprofit organization seeking to end addiction.

“We would call it a national emergency and we would marshal all the resources of federal agencies to attack the issue,” Mendell told reporters. “And that’s what needs to happen here.”

Staffs of the FDA deployed at various mail facilities in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York has resorted to typically examining suspicious packages or goods identified by officials of the U.S Customs and Border Protection.

Envelopes and packages coming from over 180 countries are checked daily but often lacks accurate details that would aid in targeting shipments, he stated. In addition, he stated that many customs officials normally have to sort through large bags and bins by hand.

However, Six states have implemented mechanisms similar to a federal emergency declaration to respond to the opioid crisis at a local level. The declarations have helped Maryland, Alaska, Florida, Arizona, Massachusetts and Virginia expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, improving reports of overdose deaths, Institute prescription drug monitoring programs and allocate funds for addiction services.

Policymakers and Public health leaders who seemed to be worried about the nation’s opioid epidemic are now mainly focusing on the international mail problem.

The White House opioid commission, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last week knocked on the Trump Administration to boost funding, staffing, and technology to try to try to “staunch the flow of deadly synthetic opioids” arriving through the mail.

“We are miserably losing this fight to prevent fentanyl from entering our country and killing our citizens,” the report said. “Our inability to reliably detect fentanyl at our land borders and at our international mail handling facilities creates untenable vulnerabilities.”

Members of Congress also are trying to address the mail issue with Sen. Rob Portmani pushing a bipartisan bill called the STOP Act. This will require foreign postal services to provide electronic security data on all packages being shipped to the United States.

2 comments

  1. ‘electronic security data on all packages’? What does that even mean? What kind of data would foreign post offices have to send electronically for ALL mail being sent to the US that isnt already like on the package labels and stuff. I dont get what they are actually asking for. And this whole thing is ridiculous. Further violating the privacy of incoming mail isnt the answer to the opioid crisis or any drug so called crisis. Neither is arbitrarily cutting the production of pain killers 20% if anything there are not enoug being made. there is certainly not enough being subscribed. The undertreatment of pain and the lack of enough opioids being prescribed is laregly responsible for the problem. Did they never notice that the so ccalled problem gets worse and worse the more doctors they go after and shut down, the more pain clinics that have to shut their doors, etc.. leaving desperate people looking for something to relieve their suffering. Ya i know not everyone is using for pain, obviously, but the severe undertreatment (usually a complete and totally lack of any treatment) is a major part of the problem. They need to be backing off doctors and letting more opioids be prescribed if they want to make things better. Maybe then people wont have to resort to much more dangerous drugs like fent or heroin of unknown quality and purity. As someone who suffers from extreme pain and has had to resort to spending several thousand dollars a month buying my meds illegally oversees this kind of shit pisses me off. You think i want to have to order my meds internationally, or pay these kinds of prices. Fuck no. But its almost impossible to find a doctor to treat pain these days because of all this bullshit. They dont find it worth the hassle so they just dont do it. So people like me are left fucked. Either pay a fortune and break laws that risk our freedom but at least be able to function and do some work (mostly barely paying for the meds and some bills). Its either that or being destitute and bed ridden in some home some where. This kind of shit needs to stop and the REAL opioid crisis (the need for opioid prescriptions to skyrocket and really do something for people in pain, not the further elimination of prescription opioids) needs more attention brought to it.

  2. I dispise drugs. Fentanyl cuts intos the US goverments heroin business. Thats why china exports i. Its a modern version of the proxy wars of the 20th century. Ironicly by reducing heroin demand the powers that be cant buy muslim terrorists weapons. THE CIA IS IMPORTING ALL THE HEROIN IN DOCOTORS WITHOUT BORDERS PANES AMONG OTHERS. THEY ARE ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY MAJOR DRUG EPIDEMIC AMERICA HAS EVER HAD. If we cut the size of the federal govenment by 99% we can stop terrorism and drugs.

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