Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan explains how the United States Postal Service must be closely monitored in order to prevent transport of opioids. Following is a transcript of the video.
Rep. Tim Ryan: It has been devastating to Ohio, it’s been devastating to West Virginia, it’s been devastating to New Hampshire, and other places in the United States. We’re working across the board on a lot of different issues from prevention to working with law enforcement to rehab and treatment.
The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in US history. The drugs are used for pain relief, and hydrocodone and oxycodone are the most commonly prescribed. The effects are indistinguishable from heroin, which has led to widespread abuse.
Opioid-related overdose deaths rose 18%, and in 2016 alone, 42,249 people died from opioid-related overdoses. As a result, US life expectancy declined to 78.6 years
Many opioids like fentanyl are ordered and mailed in small doses, making them difficult to detect.
Rep. TimRyan: One of the issues really is that quite simply people are shipping these drugs from places around the world through the United States Postal Service, and so we need to have a better monitoring mechanism in place to be able to try to track and you’re really trying to find a needle on a haystack but there are ways to do that and try to limit the ability of these drug dealers to ship their product right through the United States Postal Service. We have an obligation to do that.
In June, the DOJ closed down AlphaBay, an online market for contraband. The site hosted over 250,000 listings for illegal drugs.
In October, Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Trump: That is why, effective today, my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law, and why I am directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.
But critics say that’s not enough. Declaring a national emergency would push more federal money to the issue.
Rep. Tim Ryan: This is a huge task and the real problem is that the President, while he did declare it a public health emergency, there’s absolutely no money that goes along with that declaration. So we’ve got to have the resources in place and that includes being able to have a more sophisticated way of monitoring things that are coming in through the United States Postal Service.