Wolf Administration Moves to Make Carfentanil a Schedule II Controlled Substance
September 29, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Wolf Administration announced that Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy is issuing a notice of intent to temporarily schedule the substance carfentanil, a narcotic substance, as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.
“I have made battling the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania one of my top priorities and am committed to using all resources available to curb this epidemic,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “By temporarily making carfentanil a schedule II controlled substance, we are allowing law enforcement to take appropriate action against those in possession of this extremely dangerous drug. I am encouraging the legislature to take action to permanently make carfentanil a schedule II controlled substance.”
“I am moving to schedule carfentanil in Pennsylvania on a temporary basis in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety,” Secretary Murphy said. “It’s essential that first responders, health professionals, and family members of heroin users educate themselves about carfentanil to avoid accidental overdoses. First responders are urged to utilize appropriate personal protective equipment when treating known or suspected heroin overdoses.”
In June, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 608, sponsored by Representative Matt Baker, which amends the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device & Cosmetic Act to further provide the Pennsylvania Department of Health with the authority to control the schedules and regulations of controlled substances, liquefied ammonia gas, precursors, and chemicals.
“By allowing the Secretary of Health to temporarily reschedule controlled substances to a higher schedule, we can continue to work to prevent widespread use of substances that have the potential to be harmful or even fatal to the public at large,” said Representative Matthew Baker. “I applaud the Wolf Administration’s move to make Carfentanil a Schedule II controlled substance and look forward to finding additional ways to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic.”
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classified carfentanil as a Schedule II narcotic pursuant to the Federal Controlled Substance Act on October 28, 1988. In Pennsylvania, by contrast, carfentanil is not currently scheduled. The commonwealth has recently seen increases in drug traffickers mixing carfentanil instead of morphine to cut heroin.
Carfentanil is one of the most potent opioids in existence. It 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. Carfentanil can slow breathing significantly. It is unsafe for human use, and even a very small dose can be lethal. The Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs recently issued a warning regarding heroin laced with Carfentanil.
The proposed notice will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on September 30, 2016 and will be sent to the Attorney General for his review. The Attorney General shall, by law, have 30 days from receipt of the proposed notice to provide written comments to the Department, if any.
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