Brookfield, WI—Today, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen (D) led the National Association of Attorneys General in sending a bipartisan letter to Congressional Leadership urging the “swift passage” of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) has sponsored the SOFA Act in the House and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has sponsored the Senate companion.

Background on the SOFA Act:

Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance and, when prescribed by a doctor, can be safely used as a painkiller for cancer patients and other individuals experiencing excruciating pain. However, outside of careful supervision, fentanyl can be lethal and, along with other synthetic opioids, is now the leading cause of opioid overdoses.

In addition, street drug manufacturers create slight variations of fentanyl known as “analogues,” which fall into a legal loophole and are frequently becoming the cause of opioid-related deaths.

To combat this new trend, Congressman Sensenbrenner and Senator Johnson have introduced versions of the SOFA Act in the House and Senate. The SOFA Act immediately adds more than a dozen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list and gives the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered.

The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son, Archie, to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.

During a May House Judiciary Committee hearing, the DEA Administrator testified on the need for legislation to help law enforcement combat fentanyl analogues. Dr. Timothy Westlake, a Wisconsin based emergency medical physician, also testified in support of the SOFA Act, which he later called in an op-ed the “One bill that will stop the spread of deadly fentanyl.”

Representative Sensenbrenner: “Heart-wrenching stories like Archie Badura’s are far too common today. The opioid epidemic impacts everyone in some way — it doesn’t discriminate by age, race, socioeconomic status, or location.

Combating the newest front in the crisis — fentanyl and its analogues — will require an all-hands-on-deck effort and passing the SOFA Act is an essential piece of the puzzle. I’m extremely grateful to AGs Schimel and Jepsen for leading this bipartisan letter and to Senator Johnson for his efforts in the Senate. It’s imperative that Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell bring the SOFA Act up for consideration when Congress reconvenes.”

Attorney General Schimel: “A small amount of fentanyl has the ability to cause great harm, even to unsuspecting people like children and first responders at overdose scenes. Attorneys general in all 50 states agree - passing Rep. Sensenbrenner’s and Sen. Johnson’s SOFA Act in Congress is vital to the front line law enforcement fighting the opioid epidemic every day.”

Senator Johnson: “The scourge of addiction and overdose deaths has devastated thousands of American families, including my own. The widespread introduction of fentanyl and its analogues into illicit drug markets has resulted in skyrocketing overdose rates throughout the country. 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. I appreciate the support of Attorney General Schimel and such a broad bipartisan collection of Attorneys General for this important bill. I join them in urging Congressional leadership to pass the SOFA Act as soon as possible.”

Resources:

You can read more about the SOFA Act here.

You can read the text of H.R. 4922 here.

You can find a list of cosponsors here.

You can read the full text of the National Association of Attorneys General letter below:

 

August 23, 2018

Dear Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Minority Leader Schumer:

We, the undersigned Attorneys General, write to express our support for swift passage of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act.

There is little doubt that the nation’s ongoing battle against heroin and opiates is unlike any other public health emergency. It touches all corners of our society. States and localities are on the front line of this crisis and are a large part of winning the battle from both a law enforcement and public health perspective. We are grateful for the steps that Congress has taken to assist our states, including passing the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act earlier this year.

Unfortunately, as states have taken measures on a local level to solve this crisis, a new front has emerged in the form of trafficking in fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. As you are probably aware, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat late-stage cancer patients. Sadly, fentanyl and its analogues have made their way onto our streets with alarming regularity and overdose deaths related to fentanyl now surpass deaths related to heroin. These troubling facts were expressed in detail recently in a May 8, 2018, hearing in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee entitled, “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.”

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.

While there remains much work to be done on all levels of government to address the opioid crisis, we urge Congress to act expeditiously and pass this important piece of legislation.

Very truly yours,

George Jepsen
Connecticut Attorney General 

Brad D. Schimel 
Wisconsin Attorney General 

Steve Marshall
Alabama Attorney General 

Jahna Lindemuth 
Alaska Attorney General

Mark Brnovich
Arizona Attorney General 

Leslie Rutledge 
Arkansas Attorney General 

Xavier Becerra
California Attorney General 

Cynthia H. Coffman 
Colorado Attorney General 

Matthew P. Denn
Delaware Attorney General 

Karl A. Racine 
District of Columbia Attorney General 

Pamela Jo Bondi
Florida Attorney General 

Christopher M. Carr 
Georgia Attorney General 

Russell A. Suzuki
Hawaii Attorney General 

Lawrence Wasden 
Idaho Attorney General

Lisa Madigan
Illinois Attorney General 

Curtis T. Hill, Jr. 
Indiana Attorney General 

Tom Miller
Iowa Attorney General 

Derek Schmidt 
Kansas Attorney General 

Andy Beshear
Kentucky Attorney General 

Jeff Landry 
Louisiana Attorney General 

Janet Mills
Maine Attorney General 

Brian Frosh 
Maryland Attorney General 

Maura Healey
Massachusetts Attorney General 

Bill Schuette 
Michigan Attorney General 

Lori Swanson
Minnesota Attorney General 

Jim Hood 
Mississippi Attorney General 

Josh Hawley
Missouri Attorney General 

Tim Fox 
Montana Attorney General 


Douglas Peterson
Nebraska Attorney General 

Adam Paul Laxalt 
Nevada Attorney General 

Gordon MacDonald
New Hampshire Attorney General 

Gurbir S. Grewa
New Jersey Attorney General 

Hector Balderas
New Mexico Attorney General 

Barbara D. Underwood 
New York Attorney General 

Josh Stein
North Carolina Attorney General  

Wayne Stenehjem 
North Dakota Attorney General

Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General

Mike Hunter 
Oklahoma Attorney General 

Ellen F. Rosenblum
Oregon Attorney General 

Josh Shapiro 
Pennsylvania Attorney General 

Wanda Vàzquez Garced
Puerto Rico Attorney General 

Peter F. Kilmartin 
Rhode Island Attorney General 

Alan Wilson
South Carolina Attorney General

Marty J. Jackley 
South Dakota Attorney General 

Herbert H. Slatery III
Tennessee Attorney General 

Ken Paxton 
Texas Attorney General 

Sean Reyes T.J. Donovan 
Utah Attorney General 

T.J. Donovan 
Vermont Attorney General 

Mark R. Herring
Virginia Attorney General 

Robert W. Ferguson 
Washington Attorney General 

Patrick Morrisey
West Virginia Attorney General 

Peter K. Michael 
Wyoming Attorney General