WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act that will ensure fentanyl products remain classified on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a designation reserved for highly addictive substances with no accepted medical use. The bill is also sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

“Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. It is dangerous and it is deadly, and it’s been pouring into our country and onto our streets, devastating our communities and taking lives,” said Sen. Menendez. “This important legislation is a good first step in ensuring we find permanent solutions to the opioid crisis so that we can put an end to senseless overdose deaths that have torn apart families across New Jersey and the nation.”

Over 3,000 people in New Jersey died of a drug overdose in 2019. Although there was an overall slight decline in drug-related overdose deaths last year, the number of deaths tied to fentanyl remains a concern.

Last year, the DEA ordered that fentanyl products be categorized as a Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The bill passed today would extend that order for an additional 15 months. Without this extension, fentanyl would fall off the schedule on February 6th. Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and are considered a high potential for abuse. The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office to study and report to Congress the classification of fentanyl-related substances as a Schedule I drug, and the importation of fentanyl into the U.S. to help inform future Congressional action.

Sen. Menendez has led the charge against the opioid crisis in the United States by securing funding and programmatic support for New Jersey to invest in education and treatment to turn the tide on the opioid crisis.

The Senator helped pass the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, which provides the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that was signed into law in December. Sen. Menendez announced the introduction of the bill last April in Camden overlooking the Port of Philadelphia, which was the site of a major fentanyl bust in 2018.

Sen. Menendez voted in 2018 for the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. He also wrote several provisions of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 that expanded family-based treatment options, required the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to develop a comprehensive, national opioid action plan, and created an alternative to opioids pilot program based upon innovations to pain management treatment developed by St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson.

The Senator cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law in 2016. This bill provides resources to states to expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription drugs and to develop better monitoring systems for prescription drug use, makes naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help prevent overdoses and save lives, creates an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program, and sets national treatment standards.