|Brookfield, WI Today, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen (D) led the National Association of Attorneys General in sending a bipartisan letter to Congressional Leadership urging the “swift passage” of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) has sponsored the SOFA Act in the House and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has sponsored the Senate companion.
Background on the SOFA Act:
Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance and, when prescribed by a doctor, can be safely used as a painkiller for cancer patients and other individuals experiencing excruciating pain. However, outside of careful supervision, fentanyl can be lethal and, along with other synthetic opioids, is now the leading cause of opioid overdoses.
In addition, street drug manufacturers create slight variations of fentanyl known as “analogues,” which fall into a legal loophole and are frequently becoming the cause of opioid-related deaths.
To combat this new trend, Congressman Sensenbrenner and Senator Johnson have introduced versions of the SOFA Act in the House and Senate. The SOFA Act immediately adds more than a dozen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list and gives the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered.
The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son, Archie, to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
During a May House Judiciary Committee hearing, the DEA Administrator testified on the need for legislation to help law enforcement combat fentanyl analogues. Dr. Timothy Westlake, a Wisconsin based emergency medical physician, also testified in support of the SOFA Act, which he later called in an op-ed the “One bill that will stop the spread of deadly fentanyl.”
Representative Sensenbrenner: “Heart-wrenching stories like Archie Badura’s are far too common today. The opioid epidemic impacts everyone in some way it doesn’t discriminate by age, race, socioeconomic status, or location.
Combating the newest front in the crisis fentanyl and its analogues will require an all-hands-on-deck effort and passing the SOFA Act is an essential piece of the puzzle. I’m extremely grateful to AGs Schimel and Jepsen for leading this bipartisan letter and to Senator Johnson for his efforts in the Senate. It’s imperative that Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell bring the SOFA Act up for consideration when Congress reconvenes.”
Attorney General Schimel: “A small amount of fentanyl has the ability to cause great harm, even to unsuspecting people like children and first responders at overdose scenes. Attorneys general in all 50 states agree – passing Rep. Sensenbrenner’s and Sen. Johnson’s SOFA Act in Congress is vital to the front line law enforcement fighting the opioid epidemic every day.”
Senator Johnson: “The scourge of addiction and overdose deaths has devastated thousands of American families, including my own. The widespread introduction of fentanyl and its analogues into illicit drug markets has resulted in skyrocketing overdose rates throughout the country. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement important new tools to curb the supply of illicit fentanyl and close legal loopholes that have allowed criminal drug manufacturers and traffickers to stay one step ahead of the law. I appreciate the support of Attorney General Schimel and such a broad bipartisan collection of Attorneys General for this important bill. I join them in urging Congressional leadership to pass the SOFA Act as soon as possible.”
You can read more about the SOFA Act here.
You can read the text of H.R. 4922 here.
You can find a list of cosponsors here.