Cassidy’s bicameral, bipartisan bill targets counterfeit pill makers

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) recently sponsored a bipartisan, bicameral bill aimed at fighting the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis by focusing on counterfeit synthetic pill manufacturers.

“We can save lives by getting dangerous counterfeit pills off the streets,” Sen. Cassidy said. “This bipartisan legislation gives law enforcement resources to shut down black-market pill makers and protect our communities.”

Sen. Cassidy on April 2 introduced the Substance Tableting and Encapsulating Enforcement and Registration (STEER) Act, S. 989, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to require that a person who possesses or intends to possess a tableting machine or encapsulating machine obtain registration from the U.S. Attorney General, according to the text of the proposed legislation in the congressional record.

Sen. Cassidy was joined by bill cosponsor U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in unveiling S. 989, while the same-named H.R. 2020 was introduced on April 2 by U.S. Reps. David Kustoff (R-TN) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) in the U.S. House. 

“As heroin, fentanyl and other drugs pour through the southern border, killing Americans across the country, every state has become a border state,” Sen. Cassidy wrote in a March 26 opinion piece published in the online Town Talk, part of the USA Today network. “It’s not enough to just secure the border from drugs and prevent more from becoming addicted, we must help our communities and those already affected.

“Something must be done,” the senator wrote. “While we take national action on border security and the supply of opioids, we also need local solutions to curb these devastating impacts.” 

If enacted, the STEER Act would permit the Attorney General to establish and maintain a registry of tableting or encapsulating machine owners; to track machines imported or exported to or from the United States; and would require the U.S. Department of Justice to report to Congress on the registration and accounting of any machines used in criminal activity and seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, among other provisions, according to information provided by Sen. Cassidy’s staff.

“Counterfeit synthetic drugs are contributing to the deadly fentanyl, heroin and opioid crisis that continues to ravage communities in New Hampshire and across the country, and we must do everything we can to prevent the production of these dangerous pills,” added Sen. Hassan. “The bipartisan STEER Act will give law enforcement the tools needed to better identify pill presses that are being used for illicit purposes and implement criminal penalties for the makers of such illegal pills.”

At the same time, the bill would not impact anyone who currently owns a pill press machine, nor would it affect anyone’s ability to purchase or own a pill press machine, Sen. Cassidy’s office said.

“This legislation is targeted to fight the opioid epidemic. If you are not manufacturing controlled substances or using analogues of controlled substances in your manufacturing, this legislation does not apply to you,” according to a summary of the bill.

S. 989 is being reviewed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, while H.R. 2020 is under consideration by both the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.