Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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Six federal agencies to testify before House panel Tuesday on efforts to curb flow of fentanyl into U.S.

Jul 15, 2019
Press Release
CDC says more than half of all recent opioid-related deaths involved the synthetic drug

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A half-dozen senior Trump administration officials will testify before a key House oversight panel Tuesday as it investigates the administration’s efforts to curb the flow of a deadly synthetic opioid, known as fentanyl, into the United States.

The number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. that have been linked to the synthetic opioid have risen sharply in recent years. That, despite Congress giving the administration new tools to intercept more of the illicit drug before it enters the U.S.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, announced today that officials from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S Postal Service will all be testifying before her panel Tuesday and will be asked to explain, in detail, the steps their agencies are taking to prevent the drug from entering the country.

“We are facing a real epidemic in this country,” DeGette said. “To better protect our communities, we must stop this deadly drug from entering the U.S.”  

Congress approved legislation that was signed into law last year giving the Food and Drug Administration new tools to intercept illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, coming into the U.S. through international mail facilities. But now, as the number of fentanyl-related deaths continues to rise, DeGette and others want to know exactly what the federal government is doing to try to stop this synthetic drug from entering the U.S.

“We’ve given this administration new tools to intercept this deadly drug before it enters the U.S.,” DeGette said. “We want to make sure these agencies are doing everything they can to keep these dangerous drugs out of our communities.”

DeGette and several other members of the committee sent a series of letters last month to the heads of six major federal agencies demanding to know what their departments were doing to stop illicit shipments of fentanyl coming from China and elsewhere.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than half of the nation’s opioid-related deaths in 2017 were linked to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Of the 47,000 opioid-related deaths reported in the U.S. that year, 28,000 involved synthetic opioids – a 47 percent increase from the year before.

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 16, at 10:00 a.m. EDT in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

It will be streamed LIVE online at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpApjyqSFYk

Following is a list of the witnesses who will be testifying:

Kemp Chester, Assistant Director of the National Opioids and Synthetics Coordination Group
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
 
Matthew Donahue, Regional Director North and Central Americas Operation Division
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
 
Thomas Overacker, Executive Director, Office of Field Operations 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
 
Gary Barksdale, Chief Postal Inspector
U.S. Postal Service
 
David A. Prince, Deputy Assistant Director, Transnational Organized Crime
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
 
Carol Cave, Director, Office of Enforcement and Import Operations
U.S. Food and Drug Administration