US How Biden could make our growing problem with fentanyl even worse
Washington Seeks $38B From Opioid Distributors After 8,000 Deaths Over 11 Years
Attorney General Bob Ferguson has taken McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Corp. to court.Washington state was ravished by the opioid epidemic, which resulted in more than 8,000 deaths from 2006 to 2017. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson took the state's case against the three biggest drug distributors in the U.S. to trial and is hoping they will comply with the state's demands. McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corp. are involved in the lawsuit.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed provisional data showing thatin the 12 months that ended in April, President Joe Biden promised to take action, saying, “We cannot overlook this epidemic of loss, which has touched families and communities across the country.” However, not all action is good action — and one of the steps the administration is taking threatens to deepen the problem.
In September, the Biden administration urged Congress to make permanent a failed Trump-era policy that could further criminalize and endanger those who use drugs: a classwide ban on fentanyl analogs (drugs that are molecularly similar to fentanyl), which is set to expire Jan. 28. Almostof drug overdose deaths in the provisional data involved synthetic opioids (including fentanyl and its analogs). That’s deaths, compared to about in 2019 and about in 2018.
Byron York's Daily Memo: Do Democrats really believe things can't get worse?
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.DO DEMOCRATS REALLY BELIEVE THINGS CAN'T GET WORSE? There's a stunning assertion in a new Washington Post article about how Democrats view the current political situation. "Privately, many administration officials and allies contend that the state of affairs cannot get worse," the paper says, "thinking that Biden and the Democrats have hit their floor in negative approval ratings.
Aintroduced by Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also proposes to make the classification permanent, as does a similar bill in the . The classwide classification policy, , places fentanyl analogs in Schedule I, a classification for substances that are most strictly prohibited at the federal level.
have voiced major objections to Biden’s recommendations, for good reason: A classwide ban would not prevent overdose deaths, and it would exacerbate racist criminalization practices — while shifting attention away from much-needed harm reduction strategies that actually save people’s lives.
I understand the urge to take serious steps to prevent overdoses: My own sister died of a fentanyl and heroin overdose last year. However, intensifying prohibition is not the way. Since the categorization of fentanyl analogs, prosecutions have predictably. But since 2018, overdoses involving fentanyl and its analogs have not decreased — they have .
Drug overdose deaths top 100,000 annually for the first time, driven by fentanyl, CDC data show
America's drug epidemic is the deadliest it has ever been, new federal data suggests. © Joshua Lott/Reuters Plastic bags of fentanyl are displayed on a table at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States during the 12-month period ending April 2021, according to provisional data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heightened criminalizationpeople from in the event of overdoses because of fear of arrest. This barrier to emergency assistance further threatens the lives of people who use drugs.
In addition, harsh prosecution got us into this problem. Prosecutors’ targeting of fentanylto develop new psychoactive substances (in this case, analogs) that produced effects similar to those of fentanyl but were different enough to and prosecution. With new substances entering underground markets, consumers have less information about what they are consuming, making it even harder to stay safe. Continuing this cycle is no route to saving lives.
Meanwhile, fentanyl analogs make up a wide class of drugs, including some that are actuallythan fentanyl (a ), according to the CDC. Even by the criminal legal system’s own logic, lumping this varied group of drugs into Schedule I based on their “danger” level — potentially resulting in for substances with certain molecular structures, regardless of their effects — does not make sense.
3 States Saw Large Increase in Overdose Deaths, Which Topped 100K in U.S. Over Last Year
Experts say that the pandemic and the increase of fentanyl mixed by drug dealers into other drugs are primary factors in the increase.The estimate comes from death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on 98,000 reports between May 2020 and April 2021, the Associated Press reported.
The Biden administration has responded to advocates’ criticisms by recommending against quantity-based mandatory minimum sentences (in which judges must impose certain minimum sentences based on the amount of drugs involved in offenses) for some crimes related to fentanyl analogs.
Yet the administrationthat cases involving death or severe injury should not be exempt from mandatory minimums. This exception ignores the fact that prosecutions for “drug-induced homicide” , as documented by the Drug Policy Alliance. Drug-induced homicide prosecutions discourage people from seeking , and they have fallen heavily on and other communities of color.
Indeed, the criminalization of certain drugs has broadly affected people of color. Theseare already evident when it comes to fentanyl analogs; among people sentenced for fentanyl analog-related offenses in 2019, were Black, while only 30.7 percent were white. (Racial groups sell and buy illicit drugs at , according to an analysis by the Hamilton Project; the difference lies in who is targeted and convicted.)
U.S. annual drug overdose deaths hit record high of over 100,000
U.S. annual drug overdose deaths hit record high of over 100,000That marks a 28.5% jump from the previous year, with deaths from opioids such as fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine, and psychostimulants including methamphetamine helping drive the increase, provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.
I sympathize deeply with the impulse to do something — anything — to address the overdose crisis. Some families of people who have overdosed may want harsh punishment for those who sold their loved ones drugs, and I understand the desire for action in the face of a heartbreaking loss. But I know that criminalizing the people who sold my sister drugs would not bring her back. As a user of illicit drugs, she herself was arrested and incarcerated, which did not save her life, either.
Instead of expanding criminalization, we must dramatically expand programs that help people survive no matter which drugs they use. This would mean providing users with extensive access toto ensure purity, including (which allow users to dip a strip into water with a small amount of their drug of choice dissolved in it) — a quick and proven method frequently used at music festivals — and (higher-level devices that can analyze the composition of drugs with great and precision). It would also mean broadly expanding availability of the overdose antidote naloxone and establishing supervised consumption sites staffed with people skilled in .
Ultimately, to work toward ending the overdose crisis along with the racist impacts of the drug war, full drug legalization will be necessary, so people who use drugs can have access to, with accurate information about the dosages, composition and effects of drugs. This should be undertaken in concert with reparations for communities most affected by criminalization policies. Simultaneously, if we care about the survival of those who use drugs, we should work toward ensuring they are able to access good , non-coercive health care and other necessities, which also play a role in preventing overdose.
Although the Biden administration insists that it supports harm reduction strategies, the classwide ban on fentanyl analogs is a step away from those priorities. Come January, Congress and the Biden administration should let this policy expire.
Five decades of the drug war should prove to us that increasing criminalization does not prevent drug-related harm. Instead, it worsens mass incarceration and drives drug users into hiding while more and more people die every year.
Fentanyl Operation Could Have Made 2.5M Pills, Authorities Say as Ringleader Sentenced .
Along with the supplies, there was also $1.1 million and weapons discovered throughout the headquarters of Bradley Woolard's operation in the bust.The amount of potential pills, with the supplies ordered by Woolard's accomplice, Anthony Pelayo, 35, is so extensive that authorities had a sentencing range from around 30 years to life in prison. As it stands, the sentencing is one of the longest federal drugs sentences ever in Western Washington, according to the Associated Press.