SACRAMENTO, Aug. 23, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a bipartisan group of Attorneys General supporting the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act in Congress. The legislation closes a harmful loophole in federal law allowing the legal distribution of fentanyl analogues. Fentanyl analogues are designed to mimic the effect of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used most often to treat late-stage cancer patients. However, unlike fentanyl, these analogues contain untested chemicals that have contributed to an alarming number of overdoses and have no medical value.

“The opioid crisis is a public health emergency, threatening the lives of our loved ones and the wellbeing of our communities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Fentanyl analogues make this epidemic deadlier and more widespread—these drugs should not be manufactured, distributed or sold legally. The SOFA Act is a step toward combatting the opioid crisis, giving law enforcement the tools it needs to make our communities safer and healthier. We will continue doing everything in our power to fight this epidemic.”

Fentanyl is currently categorized under the Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule II drug, indicating that it is highly addictive, but has a legitimate medical use. Fentanyl analogues, on the other hand, are currently not scheduled under a classification that allows law enforcement to track or screen their use. This loophole allows Fentanyl analogues to be sold legally throughout the United States and places them outside the scope of federal drug enforcement – despite the fact that they serve no medical purpose and have contributed to thousands of deaths. The SOFA Act would close this loophole by regulating modifications of Fentanyl and placing the analogues in a different category from the original drug. This will provide law enforcement with the tools to prosecute criminal drug manufacturers.

Attorney General Becerra recently joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 states urging Congress to combat the opioid epidemic by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act. In September 2017, the Attorney General expanded his investigation of pharmaceutical manufacturers and the three largest distributors of opioids to determine if the companies engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. The California Department of Justice also maintains California’s prescription drug monitoring program, CURES 2.0, which allows health providers and pharmacists to flag at-risk patients and curb prescription drug abuse.

A copy of the letter signed by 52 Attorneys General supporting the SOFA Act is attached to the electronic version of this press release.