January 30, 2020
ASA Applauds Passage of Legislation to Extend Fentanyl Analogues Ban
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass ASA-supported S. 3201, the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Schedule of Fentanyl Analogues Act. ASA is pleased this legislation will help stop the illegal flow of fentanyl analogues into the country and importantly, still assures access to lawful fentanyl for medical purposes (Schedule II). Fentanyl analogues illegally and synthetically manufactured overseas, are the most lethal category of opioids and have contributed greatly to overdose deaths.
Because lawfully administered fentanyl is used in health care settings, such as hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, health clinics and in hospice care, ASA is cognizant of maintaining access to Schedule II fentanyl for medical use. Physician anesthesiologists rely on fentanyl to control pain during most surgical procedures; it is also used for patients suffering from cancer-related pain and during end-of-life care.
ASA worked with staff from the Senate Judiciary Committee to clarify there was no intention of Congress to impact lawful fentanyl with passage of S. 3201. In formal communications to the Senate Judiciary Committee and House leadership, ASA expressed appreciation that Congress is taking action to reduce overdose deaths while preserving access to legal fentanyl (Schedule II) for medical purposes.
Since 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been using its emergency authority to place all fentanyl analogues into Schedule I but legislation was required to extend or make this power permanent. DEA’s emergency authority has made it easier to seize fentanyl-like substances and investigate and prosecute traffickers. This has reduced the supply on the illicit market. With the passage of S. 3201, the DEA’s emergency authority remains in effect until May 6, 2021.
The legislation passed with 320 yeas and 88 nays. On January 16, the same bill was passed in the Senate with unanimous consent.