Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to implement new penalties for counterfeit pill production. Recently, there has been a surge in counterfeit pills laced with methamphetamine, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Just one kilogram of fentanyl can kill 500,000 people, making it 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"A dramatic rise in counterfeit pills in recent years is driving the overdose epidemic in the United States. Deadly substances like methamphetamine and fentanyl are regularly found in counterfeit pills being sold by illegal drug dealers. Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl seized by the DEA has increased more than 500 percent since 2019, up to 9.5 million counterfeit pills in 2021. This important legislation will help crack down on the rising production and use of counterfeit pills and help prevent tragic overdose deaths," Senator Feinstein said.
"Drug traffickers have been marketing and selling dangerous and deadly counterfeit pills using e-commerce platforms and social media. This is worsening the substance abuse crisis, including among at-risk teenagers and young adults. Our bipartisan proposal will ramp up criminal penalties to deter this illegal activity and help save lives," Senator Grassley said.
"The rise of drug traffickers who disguise fentanyl as other pills has created a whole new frontier in the substance misuse fight. We must stay vigilant against these bad actors and use all resources at our disposal to crack down on counterfeit pill production," said Senator Hassan. "Last fall, I called on the administration to take action and follow the lead of New Hampshire's law enforcement officers who were already sounding the alarm on this issue. I'm pleased to join my Republican and Democratic colleagues in cracking down on these criminals who seek to perpetuate the substance misuse crisis."
The senators' proposal, the Stop Pills That Kill Act, would ensure that existing penalties for possessing paraphernalia used to manufacture methamphetamine would also apply to possessing paraphernalia used to make counterfeit pills that contain methamphetamine, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.
The bill requires the DEA to issue a comprehensive plan to tackle the increasing spread of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl or methamphetamine. Additionally, it requires the Attorney General to work with the DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to issue an annual report to Congress, with a goal of helping lawmakers learn more about the scope of seizures, investigations, prosecutions and public awareness of the dangers associated with pills laced with illicit drugs.