There is no faster-growing threat to the health and safety of young Americans than the rise of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and it is both highly addictive and easily deadly.
In 2021 for the first time, United States drug overdose deaths surpassed 100,000. According to the CDC, fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45. This is not an isolated crisis, fentanyl is impacting every community around the country and we can draw a straight line between the rise in deaths and the fentanyl coming across the southern border.
Last month, law enforcement officers in Bloomington, Minnesota seized 108,000 fentanyl pills in what was described as likely “the largest fentanyl pill seizure in the Midwest.” This amount of fentanyl had the potential to kill one-fifth of our state’s population. While we are grateful that law enforcement officers were able to stop these drugs from hitting the streets, other communities are not so lucky.
In Congress, we are working with law enforcement and medical professionals to protect Americans vulnerable to fentanyl poisoning. Earlier this year, I sent a letter with 116 of my colleagues urging the Biden Administration act to address the flood of fentanyl produced in China and being smuggled across our southern border.
We are also working to curb the availability of legally prescribed opioids that are misused by 10.1 million Americans every year. By doing so, we can cut off a major pipeline to addiction—as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy struggles with addiction. I led a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf urging him to strengthen the FDA’s proposed rules on opioid disposal. Safe opioid disposal saves lives by cutting off a key source of these dangerous drugs before they can end up in the wrong hands.
We must work together to protect Americans from the threats of addiction and substance abuse. I will continue to pursue common-sense solutions that attack this epidemic head-on, work to increase access to treatment options, and ultimately get these poisonous drugs off our streets.