Feb 8, 2022 - Health

Report: Opioid trafficking is national security emergency

Picture of a person holding a sign that says "OXY KILLS" with a "$" instead of an "S" at the end

Photo: Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The U.S. opioid crisis is one of the "most-pressing national security" challenges the country faces, a government commission said in a report released Tuesday.

What they're saying: The trafficking of synthetic drugs into the U.S. is "not just a public health emergency but a national emergency that threatens both the national security and economic wellbeing of the country," the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking said.

The big picture: The commission, formed in May 2020, developed five "pillars" with recommendations on how the U.S. can best respond to illegally manufactured opioids and reduce supply.

  • The commission called for an update to "U.S. legislative and regulatory drug control frameworks" and recommended that steps be taken to make it more difficult for traffickers to access chemicals used to make opioids.
  • It also demanded there be more information to reduce substance misuse that can lead to addiction.
  • The commission urged the government to look for international cooperation "to promote enhanced control and reporting of drugs and other chemicals."
  • It also asked the federal government to "improve understanding of the illegal supply of synthetic opioids."

By the numbers: At least 1 million people in the U.S. have died since 1999 from a drug overdose, the commission said, adding that since the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of OxyContin in 1995, fatal drug overdoses have increased.

  • A recent Stanford study warned that by 2029, the opioid death toll in the U.S. could reach 1.2 million.

Between the lines: President Biden said in a December executive order that "international drug trafficking ... constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

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