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Senator Hassan Presses Top Administration Officials on the Substance Use Disorder Crisis

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan participated in a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing on addressing the substance use disorder crisis. It is the first hearing Senator Hassan participated in as a member of this caucus.


To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.


Medication-Assisted Treatment


Earlier this year, the Biden Administration announced that it was removing some requirements that limited health care providers’ ability to prescribe buprenorphine, a critical medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder. Senator Hassan is leading the bipartisan push in Congress to eliminate a waiver for prescribing buprenorphine.


During her questioning, Senator Hassan emphasized the need to do more to expand access to medication-assisted treatment.


“There are still issues of stigma here that are interfering with our ability to integrate substance use disorder treatment into primary care,” said Senator Hassan. “What I’m really looking for is not what you’ve already done. We all agree on what you’ve already done. What are we going to do next?”


Fentanyl Analogues


Senator Hassan also highlighted the disturbing increase in the supply of fentanyl analogues.


“We have heard, my colleagues and I, from law enforcement that tracking and regulating various analogues can feel like just an unending game of whack-a-mole,” Senator Hassan said.


The Senator went on to point to her bipartisan bill with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would help address the issue. The Senator asked Regina LaBelle, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONCDP), what steps the administration can take to combat the trafficking of these analogues.


“There are many things that we’re doing, including working with the global network of fentanyl trafficking,” said Director LaBelle. “So working with China about precursor chemicals, working with the Mexican government and our Drug Enforcement Administration partners to make sure that fentanyl is not coming over the border, that they are disrupting labs that are happening in Mexico. So it is a complex issue that involves many more agencies than just ONDCP.”


Opioid Trafficking on the Dark Web


Senator Hassan also discussed opioid trafficking on the dark web, which is a concern that the Senator has previously worked across the aisle to help address.


"The COVID-19 pandemic changed traditional supply networks for many products, including deadly, illicit drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “During the pandemic, many purchasers started buying these drugs through dark web marketplaces. These networks anonymize transactions to help suppliers evade law enforcement.”


LaBelle shared that the ONDCP coordinates with various federal agencies on anti-money laundering efforts to address this issue.