Booker, Cruz Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Target Online Sales of Illicit Drugs Laced with Fentanyl
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act, legislation that would address the online sale of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. Specifically, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the methods used to enable the online sale of fentanyl and assess the efforts of federal law enforcement and online providers in combatting the issue.
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) 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.
“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,” said Senator Booker. “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.”
“Our nation’s drug overdose crisis—fueled by fentanyl—has claimed upwards of 70,000 American lives,” said Senator Cruz. “This fentanyl is often marketed and sold online. I am proud to work with Sen. Booker to introduce bipartisan legislation that scrutinize exact numbers underlying this crisis and allow us to work towards comprehensive solutions to the fentanyl pandemic.”
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 U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Tom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
The full text of the bill can be found here.