NEWTOWN, PA – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) joined dozens of community leaders Thursday for a second meeting of the PA-08 Opioid Epidemic Working Group. The meeting brought together elected officials, law enforcement, medical and health professionals, and non-profit partners to continue ensuring Fitzpatrick’s focus on combating the addiction crisis is holistic and comprehensive.

“There are few issues more pressing in our own neighborhoods than the devastation caused by the growing epidemic of opioid and drug abuse. Any response to this challenge must treat the whole person, not just the addiction. We must focus on the underlying issues driving people to seek opioids, while increasing the accessibility and affordability for prevention, education, treatment, and recovery of this disease,” said Fitzpatrick. “With all the politicking in Washington right now it would be easy to push this issue to the back burner, but I won’t let that happen.I’m pleased out community has so many committed leaders and experts willing to put in the work to come up with solutions.”

A portion of the discussion centered on Fitzpatrick’s recent legislative efforts aimed at synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl. Fitzpatrick is a co-sponsor of the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act and introduced the INTERDICT Act – bipartisan legislation to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the latest in chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

In an opinion piece in the May 9th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Pennsylvania governor and Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge voiced his support for the STOP Act.

“The most powerful synthetic opioids are manufactured abroad. A recent report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission identified China as the primary source for illicit fentanyl in the United States. And the postal loophole provides an easy way to smuggle them into our country. These smuggled drugs are fueling the rapidly growing epidemic,” said Ridge. “[T]his crisis has spurred bipartisanship in both Pennsylvania and Washington In February, members of Congress from both parties introduced the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which would require vital security data on all packages shipped by mail from abroad. It has support from across the political spectrum and in our state.”

Fitzpatrick is an Emergency Medical Technician and a former federal drug prosecutor. He is a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and the Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus.