WASHINGTON – During a recent Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Claire McCaskill pushed for answers from United States Postal Service and Customs and Border Protection officials on what the U.S. is doing to crack down on opioid shipments from foreign countries to Missouri and across the country.
Click HERE for photos from the hearing.
The hearing focused on fentanyl—a deadly and addictive drug 25-40 times more potent than heroin—which has frequently been found to enter the country in shipments from China. The U.S. mail system is also being exploited to get opioid ingredients from China to Mexico for manufacture, only to be smuggled back into the U.S. for sale on the black market. McCaskill questioned officials on compliance with a law that applied penalties to mail carriers that weren’t providing required information to U.S. Customs officials in a timely manner so that Customs could identify suspicious shipments. Officials were unable to update the Senate on the implementation of the law, which was passed in 2003.
“Law enforcement needs to be all hands on deck here,” McCaskill said. “If we’re not even knowledgeable about whether or not we’ve implemented the part of the law where penalties are enacted…that’s a huge problem. I’ll look forward to getting the answers to [my questions] as quickly as possible.” The officials pledged to follow up with McCaskill following the hearing.
McCaskill has been a strong voice in Missouri and Washington for curbing the opioid epidemic and drug addiction. After pressure from McCaskill, the Administration reversed the vast majority of its intended cuts to the national office charged with combatting drug addiction and the opioid epidemic in its 2018 budget. Earlier this year, McCaskill launched a wide-ranging investigation into opioid manufacturers to explore whether pharmaceutical manufacturers—at the head of the opioids pipeline—have contributed to opioid overutilization and overprescription as overdose deaths in the last fifteen years have approached nearly 200,000. McCaskill has also long called for Missouri to pass a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, and earlier this month echoed Missouri State Rep. Holly Rehder’s call for a special session on the issue.