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Senator Cornyn launches bipartisan effort to increase access to lifesaving fentanyl test strips

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Five U.S. Senators, including Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced a bill to decriminalize testing strips that detect fentanyl and xylazine, in order to slow the growing number of deaths from overdoses in the U.S. 

Overdose deaths have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, many of them from the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, per CDC data. People use fentanyl knowingly, but others may accidentally consume it with other substances, such as cocaine and counterfeit pills, adulterated with fentanyl. Because fentanyl is so powerful, a very small amount can be lethal.

The senators say this legislation, the Fentanyl Safe Testing and Overdose Prevention Act, would help prevent overdose deaths by allowing people who use drugs to know if they have been mixed with fentanyl or xylazine.

“Fentanyl is ravaging Texas communities, and poisonings among children and teenagers have skyrocketed in recent years given the rise in fake prescription pills containing this deadly drug,” Cornyn said. “This legislation would help prevent deaths due to fentanyl poisoning by giving people the tools to identify it, and I urge my colleagues to pass it without delay.”

Mirroring national trends, the number of fentanyl-linked drug overdose deaths in Texas has spiked. In the last four years, fentanyl-related deaths increased by over 575% according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to legalize fentanyl testing strips in April, but the Texas Senate never took up the bill, leaving the strips illegal in Texas.

At least 20 U.S. have passed legislation decriminalizing the strips, according to the Associated Press.

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