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demonstrates that criminals who are making controlled substance analogs are well aware of the fact that many of these drugs are not yet controlled.
A California toxicologist says that the urine of some 10 percent of the addicts they have tested in that State have been positive for fentanyl analogs. At least 100 persons are known to have died of fentanyl analogs overdoses.
A neurologist in San Jose, CA, says that working with the Centers for Disease Control they have identified 400 persons who have been exposed to MPTP which causes Parkinsonism, an irreversible form of brain damage that is paralyzing. This doctor says that it is the tip of the iceberg. Seven of those persons, almost 2 percent of those known who are so severely ill, are permanently crippled and in danger of dying of the disease. Twenty of these persons were exposed, another 5 percent have mild symptoms of the disease. All of the young people exposed are at risk for developing Parkinson's symptoms. They are, as an investigator of the National Institutes of Health says, “walking time bombs.” And now we are seeing people who have used the drug 2 years ago beginning to exhibit symptoms. We are facing a potential public health crisis that may make our current drug abuse problems look mild.
Today, to further address this problem, we are considering a number of important legislative initiatives introduced by distinguished members of this particular subcommittee, Dan Lungren of California, Larry Smith of Florida, and Charlie Rangel of New York, the distinguished chairman of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, have all introduced important measures; and a bill that was finally passed by the other body.
To find a solution, naturally we need to look at how the emergency scheduling authority is working and how we can do more to address this particular problem. Fortunately, some excellent factfinding has already been developed in this area. In fact, three different Senate committees held hearings on the problem just last year. The distinguished Senator from Florida, Lawton Chiles, chaired excellent hearings which produced an outstanding hearing record which has been very helpful and useful to us, and we are looking forward to hearing his testimony later this morning.
I am very pleased that we have a number of very knowledgeable and distinguished witnesses this morning, some of whom traveled a great distance to discuss with us this important issue and to help us build upon the work that has been done in the other body. We look forward to hearing the testimony this morning.
The Chair at this time recognizes the ranking Republican of Florida for an opening statement.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Our efforts to ban illicit manufacture, distribution and use of controlled substance analogs can be one of the most important accomplishments of this subcommittee. If we act now and achieve the enactment of a new law in this Congress, we will help deflate this ballooning problem.
The administration proposal, H.R. 2977, was introduced on July 11, 1985, by my distinguished colleague, Mr. Lungren from California. Since Mr. Lungren is the original sponsor of this legislation and he represents a portion of the country which is inundated with these illicit drugs, I would like to yield the remaining time that I have for an opening statement to Mr. Lungren, with the permission of the chairman.
Mr. HUGHES. Permission granted. The gentleman from California, Mr. Lungren.
Mr. LUNGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As the sponsor of the Designer Drug Enforcement Act, H.R. 2977, along with my colleagues, Mr. Fish, Mr. McCollum, and Mr. Gekas, I want to compliment you for having these hearings which I hope will lead to a prompt markup of this much needed legislation.
While the genesis of the designer drug phenomena had its origin in my own State of California, unfortunately, it has spread to other parts of the country as well. At relatively low prices these drugs threaten to stimulate a growing market for chemical escape. However, unlike the term used to describe them, there is nothing particularly chic about designer drugs. I might interject that in order to ensure that these substances are not in any way accorded a fashionable connotation that they don't deserve, those in law enforcement now characterize them as controlled substance analogs.
The sad fact is that people are dying because of their use. While official reports have identified as many as 78 fentanyl deaths since 1978, I feel that these figures may significantly understate the true death toll. Unless laboratory personnel specifically look for these analogs, unless they have appropriate equipment and experience, they are not able to identify many of them as the cause of death.
At the same time, I don't wish to suggest that we should rely solely on a death count as a measure of the threat that these drugs pose to our society. Mere statistics fail to express the misery perpetrated by contemporary Dr. Frankensteins who are transforming human beings into chemical zombies.
While the emergency scheduling provisions of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 have proven to be an important initial step, it is now clear that much more remains to be done. The need for further action arises from the fact that a case cannot be prosecuted until the substance is first controlled by the emergency schedule. It is, therefore, only after a new analog of the drug is discovered, after it is analyzed, and after it is then placed under emergency control that those who traffic in chemical death face any threat of criminal liability. In the meantime, they can peddle their poison with impunity.
The Designer Drug Enforcement Act closes this loophole between the production of these new analogs and the time they are placed on the Controlled Substances Act schedule. It does so by focusing on the manufacturing and distribution of these drugs. In other words, my bill avoids the pitfall of focusing on the substances themselves which can be readily modified in an infinite variety of ways. Our drug enforcement authorities would no longer be placed in the terrible position of playing a game of cat and mouse with underground chemists. The bill would provide penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.
At the same time I would like to emphasize that the legislation that I have introduced would in no way infringe on legitimate manufacture and research activity. An exemption is specifically provided for manufacturing or distribution of a substance in con
formity with the new drug approval process of the Federal Food and Cosmetic Act. Early stage clinical research activity is protected by reference to the exemption from the new drug approval requirement for investigational use. Also, nonclinical research and industrial applications would not be affected since they are not intended for human consumption. In short, this legislation is intended to nail the chemical witch doctors without placing any additional burden on the legitimate pharmaceutical industry.
Before closing, I would like to offer an additional concern which makes prompt legislation so important. It is only a matter of time before organized crime moves into this market. Rumors about mob involvement in Californians' production of such drugs are already circulating. With low front end investment requirements and the absence of transaction costs related to importing drugs from around the world, domestic production may pose irresistible financial incentives to the American criminal enterprise.
If we are to prevent controlled substance analogs from becoming the drug of the future, the time to act is now. It is my hope that, while our constituents perhaps are watching reruns of "Miami Vice” this summer, we will have provided real live enforcement authorities with the legislative framework equal to the grim challenge posed by these new drugs.
Mr. Chairman, I might say about 7 years ago when I was on a similar panel of this committee, this overall committee, at that time I raised a concern about PCP. I suggested that we ought to increase the penalties involved there. And another member of the panel, not a member of this panel presently, indicated that he hadn't heard of PCP, that it must be a California problem and he wondered why we needed a Federal response to it. At that time I lamented the fact that there wasn't better attention given to it and I said although it was then primarily a California experience, I feared that it would go around the country, as indeed it has.
Unfortunately, California is leading the way again in this tragic consequence, and I don't think the rest of the country is going to be safe. We need this legislation, and I would hope that we can do something fairly quickly.
Mr. Chairman, I do have a 6-minute film. I wonder if you want to view that now.
Mr. HUGHES. Let me take the gentleman from Florida next, his opening statement, and then we will come back to the film.
Mr. LUNGREN. I thank the chairman.
I request that my full statement in support of H.R. 3936 be inserted in the record, and I would like to make an opening statement.
Mr. HUGHES. Without objection, so ordered.
by the other body.
I do not care which proposal we approve, but I want
a designer drug hill
enacted into law this Session.
Despite law enforcement efforts to control illegal substances, a
source which often is beyond the reach of the law has emerged.
change the molecular structure of a legal drug or an illegal compound
to a drug which mimics the effects of heroin or other drugs.
"designers" of these dangerous substances can stay one step ahead of
the law by simply once again changing the molecular structure of the
drug to create a new and for the time being legal drug when the
previous analog has been identified and marked as an illegal substance.
The effect of these drugs is not known by the designer, for,
by the Miami Herald, "the users are
the guinea pigs."
The danger of these drugs lies in a ready and 'insu spestiny market.
Those seeking heroin have found designer drugs to be a cheaper
su hstitute often disgui sed as heroin itself.
The enticement of lower
cost and greater availability has encouraged abuse.
But, these drugs
are more potent than heroin and have resulted in a number of overdoses.
They have also cau sed nerve da mage to solve individuals which creates a
condition similar to Parkinson's Disea se.
The rewari to the designer drug manufacturer also is high.
small investment in chemicals and. lab equipment, a 32 million batch of
synthetic heroin can be produced.
A $2 million a mount easily fits into
The designers also know that under current law they may not
be easily caught and prosecuted.
In April. 1995,
the Miami Herald ran
a lengthy article on
Quoted in this article was Frank Chellino of the DEA
Florida, and we shall hear testimony on this today, designer drugs have
quickly spread across the United States.
can be done to stop
this, now, before the frighteniny effects of these dangerous substances
become more and more common?