HARRISBURG – The House and Senate have approved and sent to the governor’s desk Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/ Bradford/Potter) bill to give the Commonwealth another tool in its fight against the opioid epidemic.
Watch Rep. Owlett’s comments in support of House Bill 616 here
“The pandemic has taken over the headlines, but the opioid epidemic is, unfortunately, alive and well in the state. In fact, it’s been made worse by the isolation and social distancing that have resulted from COVID-19,” Owlett said. “We cannot let up on our efforts to keep these dangerous drugs out of our communities.”
House Bill 616 would place the drug carfentanil on the list of Schedule II controlled substances. The designation would severely restrict availability of the drug and make it illegal to possess or distribute it without a license or a prescription.
“This bill was first introduced by my predecessor, Rep. Matt Baker, and I’m pleased to help finish the good work he started on this issue,” Owlett said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. It is commonly used as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants. It is unsafe for human use, and even a very small dose can be lethal. It can come in a number of forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, patch and spray. Some forms can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warns first responders to have respirators available when handling the drug.
Owlett noted the state secretary of Health has taken steps to place carfentanil on the Schedule II list as a temporary measure under the emergency authority created by the passage of Act 37 of 2016. However, given the drug’s lethality, legislation making the listing permanent is a necessity.
If the bill is signed into law, it will take effect immediately.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives