CINCINNATI — Two Ohio lawmakers are pushing for a stronger response against the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, who visited Cincinnati Tuesday, is promoting a law that would punish China and any other countries that produce and export those drugs to the U.S. Brown is getting backing from Sen. Rob Portman.
“China has finally agreed to back off production of fentanyl and they won’t export anymore, but we want to trust with verify," said Brown. "If they don’t, these sanctions on financial transactions and others begin to tighten more on China for breaking their word.”
That's good news to local first responders who have answered 656 calls for heroin overdoses in Cincinnati this year. That's so many they can hardly remember them.
“It seems like time, time has numbed us to the issue,” said EMS District Chief Cedric Robinson. “It’s still a huge issue.
And getting worse with so much fentanyl around.
"The United States is in a drug epidemic but a fentanyl crisis," said Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan.
“What happens with fentanyl is that it constantly keeps us in emergency mode."
There were 180 overdoses here in June alone.
“When you have 50 to 60 people overdosing in a weekend - double-digits people dying from a drug - it is important that we put pressure on those countries that are producing it," Synan said.
Brown agrees and that's why he's behind the Fentanyl Sanctions Act. The bill has passed the Senate but needs approval by the House before it can be signed into law.
Brown hopes that will happen in the next few weeks.
Brown said he and Portman have been working on other bills to assist law enforcement, prevention and treatment.
“It’s the worst public health crisis as a nation and Ohio is unfortunately an epicenter," said Brown. "It’s why Sen. Portman and I work together on this. It’s that’s important to our state."
Synan said futures depend on it.
“We have to think about this. This is not just this generation,” Synan said.