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‘The legislation I am introducing this afternoon is in memory of my nephew, of Archie, and of all of the families in Wisconsin and throughout America that have lost loved ones in this epidemic.’

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act, or SOFA Act, legislation he introduced to give law enforcement enhanced tools to combat the opioid epidemic by closing a loophole in current law that makes it difficult to prosecute crimes involving some synthetic opioids.

Excerpts of his remarks and background are below. Video of his speech can be found here.

“From big cities to small towns, communities across our country have been ravaged by drug addiction and the multiple problems caused by it. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, and were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in 2015 alone.”

“The scourge of addiction and overdose deaths has devastated thousands of American families, including my own. In January 2016 I lost a nephew to a fentanyl overdose. The legislation I am introducing this afternoon is in memory of my nephew, of Archie, and of all of the families in Wisconsin and throughout America that have lost loved ones in this epidemic.” 

“The SOFA Act will give law enforcement a set of enhanced tools to combat the opioid epidemic by closing a loophole that criminal drug manufacturers are exploiting. Fentanyl is a synthetic, or man-made, opioid—the result of complex chemistry that brings together multiple building blocks. Criminal chemists need to change only one small piece of the chemical bond to be one step ahead of the law. The fentanyl analogues on the street today serve no known medical purpose and are contributing to the alarming overdose rates throughout the country.”

“This body took a step forward last Congress when we passed the CARA legislation to improve addiction treatment programs throughout the United States. We now can take another important step forward by providing law enforcement with the tools it needs to get these dangerous synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil off the street.”

Background on the SOFA Act

  • Fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II controlled substance used to treat cancer patients. By modifying one small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl, a new chemical compound is created. Under current law, these new compounds, also known as analogues, are legally sold all over the world.
  • These known analogues serve no medical purpose and are contributing to alarming rates of fatal opioid overdoses throughout the country. 
  • The SOFA Act would:
    • Close a loophole in current law by immediately scheduling particular fentanyl analogues known in our communities under Schedule I; and
    • Provide the Drug Enforcement Agency additional tools to quickly schedule other dangerous fentanyl analogues as they are identified;   
  • SOFA stands for Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues and is the same acronym as an organization started by Lauri Badura of Oconomowoc, Wis. Lauri lost her son, Archie, to an overdose on May 15, 2014 and has worked to raise awareness throughout Wisconsin on the dangers of drug abuse. 

The full text of Johnson’s legislation can be found here.

 

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