FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) – Attorney General Andy Beshear is calling on federal lawmakers to close a loophole that allows those who traffic deadly fentanyl analogues to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.
In a letter sent to House and Senate leadership, Beshear, along with a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general, called on Congress to pass the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. S.1553and H.R. 4922 would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to proactively identify and schedule new fentanyl variants.
“In Kentucky and nationwide, overdose deaths related to fentanyl now surpass deaths related to heroin and this legislation must be passed for law enforcement to effectively combat those driving the illicit production and distribution of deadly fentanyl variants,” said Beshear. “Closing this loophole will make it easier to prosecute crimes involving synthetic opioids and will save lives.”
According to a July report released by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, fatal overdoses in Kentucky totaled 1,565 in 2017, which was an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year. Fentanyl was a factor in approximately 763 deaths and 52 percent of the toxicology cases.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat late-stage cancer patients. Once a small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl is modified, the new compound falls into a legal gap.
The SOFA act will close this gap by adding known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list and provide the DEA the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered, making enforcement and scheduling procedures more proactive.