WASHINGTON –Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) joined a bipartisan majority of the House Friday to pass legislation to provide swifter action to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs, and give law enforcement effective tools to help keep our communities safe.
The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act [H.R. 2851], co-sponsored by Fitzpatrick and endorsed by the Problem Solvers Caucus, now heads to the Senate.
“As an EMT and former federal drug prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of addiction in our communities and understand the increased danger added by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. I’m proud that the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the SITSA Act, which strengthens federal law to ban synthetic opioids and their analogues,” said Fitzpatrick, vice chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “This bipartisan bill would ensure law enforcement has the necessary authorities to remove these illicit opioids from circulation. I’m grateful for Rep. John Katko and our colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus for working in a bipartisan fashion to tackle the issue of fentanyl entering our communities as part of our larger strategy to combat this national crisis.”
Passage of the SITSA Act builds on Fitzpatrick’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and stem the flow of synthetic opioids into the United States. Earlier this year, Fitzpatrick’s INTERDICT Act, which was signed into law, provided U.S. Customs and Border Protection the latest in chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
The SITSA Act modernizes the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to provide prompt action to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs. It establishes a mechanism by which synthetic drugs can be temporarily and permanently controlled to curtail illicit manufacturing, importation and distribution. Synthetic drugs are analogues of already-controlled substances. Illegal drug traffickers and importers are able to circumvent the existing scheduling regime by altering a single atom or molecule of a currently controlled substance in a laboratory, thereby creating a substance that is lawful, but often highly dangerous, addictive, and even deadly.
Instead of taking three years to bring a drug under control, SITSA gives the Attorney General the power to quickly and temporarily schedule a new dangerous drug in a matter of months when it is virtually identical to a currently scheduled drug. The bill also requires the Attorney General to work with the Department of Health and Human Services so that the synthetic drugs can be studied by qualified researchers studying addiction and developing the latest cures for serious illnesses.
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising of 48 members – equally divided between Republicans and Democrats – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).