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Senators seek info on US efforts to block opioid shipments

Senators seek info on US efforts to block opioid shipments
© Greg Nash

The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are seeking details on federal efforts to prevent shipments of powerful synthetic opioids from entering the United States.

Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (R-Wis.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements McCaskill campaign says ‘intern’ who filmed campaign had access to voter data MORE (Mo.), sent letters Monday to the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service requesting the information.

“The opioid crisis in this country has reached epidemic proportions, and it is a multifaceted problem that demands a whole-of-government approach to resolve,” the senators wrote.

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“While the causes of drug addiction are complex, the U.S. has seen an increase in the presence of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, which can easily be purchased from the ‘dark web.’”

McCaskill and Johnson want to know about the agencies’ efforts to stop fentanyl from being shipped to the U.S. from China and other countries.

The senators are requesting details such as how the agencies and foreign postal operators are working together to share data, the extent of the problem and the degree to which current guidelines are followed, among other issues.

The senators are requesting that the information be provided by Dec. 15.

Synthetic opioids are a major contributor to the spike in U.S. opioid overdose deaths.

From 2014 to 2015, the death rate from synthetic opioids jumped 72 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.