Bipartisan Senate bill aims to curb illegal fentanyl imports from China

by Jim Orr

A new bipartisan bill aims to curb the role of fentanyl in the nationwide opioid epidemic by stopping illegal imports of the drug from China. The bill – known as the Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act – is sponsored by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.

The new bill would make financial assistance for countries that produce fentanyl, such as China, dependent on these countries’ assistance in U.S. drug investigations. The bill would also require the U.S. State Department to include a list of countries that are major manufacturers of fentanyl in the agency’s annual narcotics report.

The bill would also step up these efforts by tying international assistance in stopping illegal fentanyl shipments to economic aid from the U.S. Under the proposed bill, countries that produce fentanyl would lose their access to the Export-Import Bank. These countries would also lose their eligibility for other U.S. economic aid if they fail to cooperate with U.S. investigations.

Another opioid-related bill that was passed last month included provisions to improve the digital tracking of international packages in order to curb the illegal importation of fentanyl. The new bills are part of a broader effort by Trump administration officials to curb the opioid epidemic after two decades in which the annual death toll from these drugs has climbed to tens of thousands every year.

Fentanyl’s Role in the Nationwide Opioid Epidemic

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid painkiller that is about 80-100 times more potent than morphine. Although many fentanyl products are produced and sold legally in the U.S., the illegal production and sale of fentanyl has caused tens of thousands of deaths in recent years, driving up the number of overdose deaths attributed to the nationwide opioid epidemic.

According to a 2016 report by the Drug Enforcement Agency, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl have been produced and sold in the U.S. over the last several years. Many illicit street drugs – including cocaine and heroin – have also been laced with fentanyl. Because of its extreme potency, individual who use opioids or other drugs that contain fentanyl face a higher risk of overdose.

These fentanyl-laced drugs have led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years. According to a recent CDC report, fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids were responsible for about half of all opioid overdoses between 2016 and 2017.

Much of the illegal fentanyl that has played a role in these overdoses comes to the U.S. from China. According to a recent Senate report, fentanyl can be easily purchased online from China or other overseas countries. Although the U.S. Postal Service and other agencies have increased their efforts to stop the shipment of fentanyl, authorities have struggled to limit the supply of the drug coming into the U.S.

Opioid Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you have lost a loved one to an overdose caused by fentanyl or other prescription painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits involving opioid painkillers have been filed against companies who manufacture these drugs, doctors who prescribed them, and the pharmacies or distributors that dispensed these prescriptions.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of opioid overdose victims. Our firm has handled more lawsuits involving the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl than all other law firms in the country combined. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also filed lawsuits on behalf of hundreds of other patients who have been harmed by opioid painkillers or other dangerous drugs.

For more information about the opioid lawsuits filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact our office by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free fentanyl case evaluation form to speak with an attorney about your case.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.