WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), along with U.S. Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Annie Kuster (D-NH), today reintroduced the Substance Tableting and Encapsulating Enforcement and Registration (STEER) Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to combat the opioid crisis by cracking down on counterfeit pill makers.
The STEER Act allows the U.S. attorney general to create and maintain a registry of tableting or encapsulating machine owners, track machines imported or exported to or from the United States, and requires the Department of Justice to provide a report to Congress detailing the registration and accounting of any machines used in criminal activity and seized by the DEA.
Cassidy published an oped conveying Congress’ ongoing commitment to combating the opioid crisis and the need for an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach.
“We can save lives by getting dangerous counterfeit pills off the streets,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bipartisan legislation gives law enforcement resources to shut down black-market pill makers and protect our communities.”
“Counterfeit synthetic drugs are contributing to the deadly fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis that continues to ravage communities in New Hampshire and across the country, and we must do everything we can to prevent the production of these dangerous pills,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan STEER Act will give law enforcement the tools needed to better identify pill presses that are being used for illicit purposes and implement criminal penalties for the makers of such illegal pills. I’ll keep working across party lines to turn the tide of this crisis and help save lives.”
“The opioid death rate is now at an all-time high, and it is vital we do all we can to provide real solutions to this crisis that is devastating families throughout West Tennessee,” said Representative Kustoff. “The STEER Act proposes tangible steps to help authorities crack down on the production of illicit drugs. I am happy to join my colleagues in introducing this important piece of legislation and I urge its swift passage.”
“Synthetic opioids are accelerating an already deadly epidemic and we must do everything we can to stop the spread of these drugs,” said Representative Kuster. “Many knockoff opioids contain dangerous synthetics such as fentanyl or carfentanil, which can kill unwitting individuals who are suffering from substance use disorder. We must hold drug dealers and manufacturers responsible for pushing these counterfeit pills. Cracking down on unregistered pill presses will provide law enforcement with another tool to combat this crisis.”
In 2017, CNN reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection “is seizing pill presses at a rate 19 times higher than in 2011. That’s the year the synthetic drug fentanyl exploded in the US drug market, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. … ‘People have died from ingesting what they think is a legitimate painkiller, (but really) it’s a counterfeit pill that contains fentanyl,’” said one Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent.