New York Senator Chuck Schumer is urging President Trump to sign a bill into law that could strike a significant blow in the fight against fentanyl abuse in the United States. The legislation would pay for portable screening equipment that detects large symptoms of fentanyl coming into the United States from other countries. Customs and Border Protection would use the equipment to detect large shipments of the powerful and potent drug. Overdose deaths from the powerful opioid, which can be up to 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, have shot up 540 percent in the last three years, and have significantly contributed to overall opioid-related death increases.
Senator Schumer has mentioned he wants JFK Airport to be the first facility to implement this new technology, an understandable request given his job as one of New York’s highest-level national legislators; however, if proven effective, it could be a game-changing resource for an entire nation that is losing more and more of its citizens to the increasingly overwhelming public health issue of fentanyl abuse. A majority of the fentanyl that comes into the United States comes in from Mexico and China, making international trafficking an urgent priority right alongside other preventative measures like increased treatment and heightened enforcement efforts.
Fentanyl use and abuse must be addressed at all levels, including trafficking and distribution at the international level. Technological innovations such as this equipment can represent a significant step forward as we wage a multipronged fight against opioid addiction and subsequent overdose. The best way to curtail this epidemic is by identifying and addressing all the elements and scenarios through which it manifests, whether it’s at the doctor’s office, national ports of entry, the street corner, the medicine cabinet or any other potential venue for abuse or illegal sale. Resources like this proposed detection equipment are steps in the right direction.