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Pallone Bill to Empower FDA to Combat Illicit Opioid Importation Passes Energy and Commerce Committee

May 17, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC- Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.’s (NJ-06) bill to increased funding to combat illicit opioid importation today passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee. H.R 5228, the Stop Counterfeit Drugs by Regulating and Enhancing Enforcement Now (SCREEN) Act, will also expand the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to prevent illegally manufactured opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, from arriving overseas through the mail. 

One of the many ways synthetic opioids reach the United States is through International Mail Facilities (IMFs), which receive millions of parcels containing illegal or unapproved drugs annually.

“I am pleased to see this important legislation move forward on a bipartisan basis and one step closer to becoming law. I hear so many heartbreaking stories of New Jersey families facing addiction. We need to do whatever we can to stop this devastating epidemic,” said Pallone. “We need to provide FDA with the funding and tools needed to take on the illicit drug trade taking place through the international mail system at facilities like the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center. The SCREEN Act will provide FDA with the expanded authority and capacity needed to more effectively combat the influx of deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl reaching our shores through the mail.”

Last week, Pallone, Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) and United State Postal Service (USPS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials toured the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center in Secaucus, NJ and discussed the importance of the SCREEN Act.

The SCREEN Act would:

•           Allow FDA to destroy more than $2,500 worth of drugs (the maximum under current law) if the Agency determines it would be in the interest of public health to do so.

•           Authorize FDA to issue an Emergency Recall Order and to cease distribution of drugs that may pose an imminent or substantial hazard to public health.

•           Grant FDA authority to refuse importation and destroy drugs on the basis that they have been identified to DEA as “articles of concern”, as well as to refuse, destroy or find to be misbranded, unlabeled or minimally labeled imported products that contain active ingredients.

•           Give FDA authority to debar (i.e. stop from operating) individuals or companies who exhibit repeated illegal activity or who have been convicted of a FDA felony or other violations from importing any drug products under a different company name.

•           Authorize $110 million to FDA for fiscal years 2019 through 2023 to support innovation in non-opioid and non-addictive pain treatment, programs to increase access to opioid use disorder treatment, and to reduce illicit importation of opioids, including increasing staff capacity at IMFs.