Today, during a Senate Committee on Finance Hearing titled “Front Lines of the Fentanyl Crisis: Supporting Communities and Combating Addiction through Prevention and Treatment,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown highlighted his work to crack down on fentanyl traffickers through his Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, which was signed into law last month.

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act takes action to expand sanctions to illicit fentanyl traffickers in Mexico and the creators of precursor chemicals in China. Senator Brown worked with law enforcement to craft the legislation, and national and Ohio law enforcement have praised the bills passage.

Brown also discussed the importance of access to addiction treatment services with witnesses Tony Vezina, Executive Director of 4D Recovery Center; Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone, Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Founding Director of the Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Caleb J. Banta-Green, Director of the University of Washington Center for Community-Engaged Drug Education, Epidemiology and Research; and Dr. Abigail J. Herron, Vice President and Chief Behavioral Health Officer at the Institute for Family Health.

“After fighting for a year Congress passed my bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which focuses on targeting and sanctioning the precursor chemical makers in China and the cartels in Mexico that put this stuff together. Cracking down obviously on the supply and at that level going after where the big money is, is really important,” said Brown. “It is an all-of-the-above approach.”

Brown asked the witnesses about the accessibility of treatment services, including the importance of Medicaid.

“It’s incredibly important. Just for myself, before the expansion of Medicaid there was a lottery system, and I was trying to get into treatment but didn’t get selected for the lottery. And so I had to wait, and they had to prioritize other populations aside from me. But after Medicaid expansion, I was able to get into treatment immediately,” responded Vezina.

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