Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bill Aims to Crack Down on Narcotics Traffickers

October 10, 2019 by Dan McCue
This desktop pill press can produce between 5,000 and 5,500 tablets per hour. (Screen grab via YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., has introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to deter narcotics traffickers from using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.

Spanberger, a member of the bipartisan Freshman Working Group on Addiction, said as the opioid epidemic continues to impact communities across the country, drug traffickers have turned to counterfeit drug manufacturing as another strategy to profit from opioid abuse and addiction.

These molds can easily be purchased online, and they are often used to produce drugs designed to mimic legitimate pharmaceutical products. Currently, this practice is prohibited by law—but the penalty is not defined.

Spanberger’s Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates (CAST) Act would address this enforcement issue by modifying the Controlled Substances Act to clearly define the criminal penalty for making counterfeit drugs using a pill press.

Additionally, her legislation would stiffen penalties for those who use pill presses to create and distribute counterfeit drugs—including opioids.

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. William Cassidy, R-La., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. The House bill is co-sponsored by David Kustoff, R-Tenn.

“In Central Virginia and across the country, families, businesses, and entire communities continue to face immense challenges due to the opioid epidemic,” Spanberger said. “As this public health crisis grows, we also face the threat of extremely dangerous substances—such as fentanyl—being pressed into illicit pills and sold on our streets.”

“This bill—supported by Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress—would help crack down on the production of counterfeit drugs via illicit pill press molds,” she continued. “By deterring drug traffickers and those who produce illicit drugs, we are taking another step in a multi-faceted approach in the fight against fentanyl—and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to prevent overdoses, increase access to wraparound treatment, and pave more pathways to long-term recovery.”

Spanberger’s CAST Act makes possession of a press mold with intent to counterfeit schedule I or II substances a crime within the Controlled Substances Act.

Additionally, the bipartisan legislation would increase by two levels the offense level of making or selling controlled substances in conjunction with possession of a pill press mold.

The CAST Act is supported by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, and the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

The full text of the bill can be viewed here.

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