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Senators Hassan and Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Awareness of Fentanyl Danger Among Young People

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation that creates a comprehensive federal strategy to help prevent fentanyl overdoses in children and teens. Overdose deaths among children and teens have almost tripled in recent years, and increasingly, young people are overdosing on fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills imitating Adderall or Xanax.

“The fentanyl crisis is not sparing our children and teens, which is why we need a comprehensive effort to educate young people about the dangers of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan legislation will help schools partner with public health agencies, share best practices with one another, and allow school health centers to purchase overdose reversal medications. We must keep working to ensure that children and teens know the dangers of fentanyl, especially as we see fentanyl increasingly laced into counterfeit pills that some teens buy online.”

“Fentanyl poisoning is the leading cause of death for young adults, and raising awareness is absolutely critical to turning the tide of this epidemic,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation will equip federal, state, and local officials to better coordinate their response to this crisis and prevent this deadly drug from claiming more young lives.”   

“Accidental fentanyl overdoses have surged in Oregon and across the country and, tragically, a growing number of young people have lost their lives,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). “Expanding access to accurate, evidence-based fentanyl awareness education can prevent the loss of more lives to this dangerous drug. I am grateful that Senators Hassan and Cornyn are introducing a Senate companion to my bipartisan FACTS Act, and I am grateful for families like Jon and Jennifer Epstein, whose advocacy inspired this legislation.”

“Awareness saves lives. Educating our young people about the fentanyl crisis and the perils of fake pills will go a long way towards stopping further tragedies in our communities,” said Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA). “I want to thank Laura Didier of A Song For Charlie. After losing her son Zach, Laura has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and has undoubtedly saved lives through her efforts. I am grateful to Representative Bonamici for partnering with me on this vital legislation and am hopeful it receives strong bipartisan support in the House.”

The Fentanyl Awareness for Children and Teens in Schools (FACTS) Act would:

  1. Establish education partnership programs between public schools and public health agencies to prevent the misuse of, and overdose with, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids by youth;
  2. Develop a collaborative approach among local, state, and federal officials to identify and disseminate best practices in education and prevention regarding the misuse of, and overdose with, synthetic opioids by youth;
  3. Increase opportunities for employees of secondary schools receiving federal funds to receive professional development on the dangers of the misuse of, and overdose with, synthetic opioids by youth;
  4. Improve the availability and utility of data regarding the proliferation of synthetic opioids by youth; and,
  5. Allow Naloxone to be purchased by school-based health centers.

In the House, the legislation is led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1) and Kevin Kiley (R-CA-3), with Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR-5) and Joe Neguse (D-CO-2) as original co-sponsors. A one-pager on this legislation is available here. Full text of this legislation is available here. Additionally, the bill has been endorsed by AASA, The School Superintendents Association; American Federation of Teachers; American Psychological Association Services; Makin’ It Happen Coalition for Resilient Youth, Inc.; National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Association of School Psychologists; National Parent Teacher Association; Raymond Coalition For Youth; and the School-Based Health Alliance.

This bipartisan legislation is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to combat the fentanyl epidemic. Since 2017, Senator Hassan has successfully worked to secure a nine-fold increase in funding to New Hampshire to address the substance use disorder epidemic. Senator Hassan continues to work to reauthorize the SUPPORT Act – a landmark investment into substance misuse prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement efforts that Senator Hassan worked to pass into law in 2018. Senator Hassan also successfully passed into law her bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, to increase the number of medical professionals authorized to prescribe the gold standard of opioid treatment. Additionally, Senator Hassan worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.