DEA to schedule fentanyl-related substances

Henrietta Strickland
November 10, 2017

Anyone who possesses, imports, distributes, or manufactures any illicit fentanyl analogue will now be subject to criminal prosecution similar to other controlled substances.

The DEA order will change the "schedule" of all fentanyl-related substances on an emergency basis.

The DEA had announced this week that a record-breaking 912,305 pounds - or 456 tons - of potentially risky expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs were collected during the eighth annual Prescription Drug Take Back Day event last month.

The DEA's action aims to minimize the potential harm these fentanyl substances with no medical or industrial use cause.

The way the Department of Justice treats fentanyl-related substances is changing as the DEA takes immediate action to fight the illicit flow of the drugs. This creates fentanyl analogues not technically scheduled but which still produce the same powerful and unsafe high.

Prosecutors previously faced hard evidentiary hurdles to convict traffickers, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DEA's action will provide prosecutors with an important tool in combating the opioid epidemic. However, each prosecution requires individual expert testimony, making the process cumbersome and resource consuming for the DEA and federal prosecutors.

The US Justice Department on Thursday announced a ban on all fentanyl-like drugs amid skyrocketing rates of overdoses from the synthetic opioids.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said law enforcement and prosecutors will have the ability to make needed actions to stop the spread of the substances. Drug overdose death is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, and the leading overall cause of death among Americans under 50.

The temporary scheduling will go into effect no earlier than 30 days after the DEA publishes its official notice and will last up to two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension if certain conditions are met. "DEA is committed to using all of its tools to aggressively fight and address the opioid crisis and growing fentanyl problem plaguing the United States", said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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