Murphy leads subcommittee hearing on public health dangers posed by fentanyl
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) said America is facing an opioid crisis during a hearing that he led this week that explored the impact of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Murphy, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, looked at the public health impact of the synthetic opioid during the hearing.
“The surge of fentanyl is having a dramatic and deadly effect on our communities,” Murphy said. “We all see the headlines — these are our neighbors, our families, our friends. We need an ‘all hands on deck approach’ to fight this problem, which will involve not just the federal government, but states, localities and even international partners.”
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, he noted.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, highlighted that 49 people died from fentanyl in Oregon in 2014 and 2015, adding, “Fentanyl makes the deadly threat of opioid abuse even deadlier.”
“Combating this growing, multi-faceted fentanyl threat will require more than the drug-control strategies aimed at opioid overprescribing and heroin,” Walden said.
“Fentanyl is a global problem that requires an urgent response. I commend the efforts of our government, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the State Department, particularly, for their success in gaining cooperation with China and the United Nations,” Walden said. “We need to continue to support this international engagement to be successful.”
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) cited her experience as a U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana and voiced concern about first responders who have to arrive at the scene with fentanyl and make contact with the dangerous drug.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) reiterated how easy it is to obtain illegal fentanyl. “I went online and looked at how to order fentanyl online just while we’re sitting here and there are a lot of opportunities,” he said during the hearing.
Although fentanyl is a tightly controlled prescription medicine used to treat pain, it is also easy to illicitly manufacture.