Sens. Cruz, Booker Introduce Bipartisan Bill Targeting Online Sales of Drugs Laced with Illicit Fentanyl
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced bipartisan legislation to address the online sale of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. The Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an investigation into the methods used to facilitate the online sale of fentanyl in coordination with assessing the effectiveness of federal law enforcement and online providers to combat the fentanyl crisis.
Upon introducing Sen. Cruz said, “Our nation’s drug overdose crisis—fueled by fentanyl—claims upwards of 70,000 American lives each year. Chinese fentanyl continues to pour across our southern border thanks to the failures of the Biden administration. Fentanyl is often marketed and sold online. I am proud to work with Sen. Booker to introduce bipartisan legislation that scrutinizes exact numbers underlying this crisis and allow us to work towards comprehensive solutions to the fentanyl pandemic.”
Sen. Booker said, “The online sale of illicit drugs laced with fentanyl has had a devastating effect: drug overdoses now surpass suicide, traffic accidents, and gun violence as one of the leading causes of preventable death among people aged 18 to 45. This legislation will provide answers of how best to disrupt online drug distribution channels, helping lawmakers craft evidence-based solutions that effectively address the issue.”
The Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act would require the GAO to provide a report within one year on the following areas:
- the business models and techniques employed by online fentanyl traffickers;
- the utilization of social media platforms in facilitating fentanyl transactions involving youth;
- the scope and effectiveness of federal initiatives aimed at countering online fentanyl sales, including intergovernmental and interagency collaborations;
- the enforcement mechanisms and processes employed by online providers to detect and report transactions; and
- an analysis of the outcomes of referrals to law enforcement agencies regarding online fentanyl sales, along with areas requiring improvement.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
- The legislation comes as more Americans died from drug overdoses in 2022 than any year prior, and an alarming number of those fatalities stemmed from the online sale of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.
- During just a two-month period in 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) identified 76 cases where traffickers advertised drugs on social media.
- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) recently discovered that nearly 95% of the 35,000 online pharmacies operated illegally and experts detect over 10,000 new drug-related accounts on social media every month.
- Earlier this year, Senator Cruz introduced and the Senate passed the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act, which directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to take steps to enhance understanding of tranq, a new street drug, and other novel synthetic drugs, develop new tests for detection, and establish partnerships with front-line entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs.
Read the full text of the bill here.