Attorneys general from 50 States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico released a letter Thursday to urge "swift passage" on a opioid bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
The bill is called the SOFA Act and is aimed at cracking down on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be be used safely as a painkiller under proper medical care.
But recreational use can be deadly, especially with the creation of slight variations known as analogues, which fall into a legal loophole.The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues bill toughens enforcement.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican, and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, a Democrat, spearheaded the bipartisan letter from the National Association of Attorneys General to Congressional leadership.
The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Lauri Badura, of Oconomowoc, whose son Archie died of an overdose in 2014. She founded Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
“Heart-wrenching stories like Archie Badura’s are far too common today," Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican, said in a statement. "The opioid epidemic impacts everyone in some way — it doesn’t discriminate by age, race, socioeconomic status, or location."
Sensenbrenner called on House Speaker Paul Ryan of and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the bill up when Congress reconvenes.
Schimel said passing the act "is vital to the front line law enforcement fighting the opioid epidemic every day.”
Johnson said the SOFA Act "will give law enforcement important new tools to curb the supply of illicit fentanyl and close legal loopholes that have allowed criminal drug manufacturers and traffickers to stay one step ahead of the law."
In their letter to Congress, the attorneys general write: "The SOFA Act will eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogues and then introduce these fentanyl analogues into the opioid supply.
"In short, the SOFA Act utilizes catch-all language which will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to proactively schedule all newly modified fentanyl analogues and thus will assist law enforcement’s efforts on the front end. The SOFA Act unplugs the entire fentanyl machine in the first instance by making fentanyl analogues illegal as soon as they are manufactured, which occurs most often abroad in countries without adequate controls."