After Casey-Backed Bath Salts Ban Clears Senate Hurdle, Senator to Call On Congress to Include Measure in Bill Set to Pass This Month

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WASHINGTON, DC – As incidents involving bath salts continue to harm communities across the country, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on Congress to pass a permanent, national ban on bath salts and other synthetic drugs.

The Senate passed a Casey-supported provision as part of the FDA reauthorization bill to ban the drugs, but the House-passed version of the FDA bill did not include the anti-drug provision.  The House passed a separate synthetic drug ban with bipartisan support last year.

“The horrible acts of bath salts-induced violence are a call to action to protect Pennsylvania’s communities from these harmful substances, which is why I’ve pushed legislation to ban the drugs permanently,” said Senator Casey. “Pennsylvanians are demanding action to ban the drug and stop these acts of violence, so I urge the Senate and House to include the provisions I’ve supported in the final bill we send for the President’s signature.”

Senator Casey released a letter he wrote to the House and Senate leaders who will be negotiating a compromise FDA bill urging them to include the synthetic drugs provisions in the final bill.

In his letter, Senator Casey wrote, “With the public demanding action, the time is long overdue for both chambers to come together and send a law to the President’s desk that addresses a problem which has touched nearly every corner of the country.”

Senator Casey has been a leader in the effort to ban the harmful substances in bath salts and other synthetic drugs by introducing comprehensive legislation to deal with the problem. He also repeatedly urged the DEA to use its authority to get the drugs out of Pennsylvania communities.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:

Dear Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, Chairman Upton, and Ranking Member Waxman:

I write in support of critically important legislation to ban and prevent the spread of dangerous designer drugs, which include substances such as so-called “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana.  For over a year, I and other concerned Members of Congress have fought for common-sense, bipartisan legislation to get these drugs off the street and to crack down on the producers of synthetic drugs.  As House and Senate Committee leaders overseeing efforts to reauthorize the pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee bill, I urge you to ensure that provisions included in the Senate-passed bill to address this growing problem are preserved in the final legislation.

As you know, on May 24 the Senate passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act with near universal support.  This legislation includes provisions banning various forms of synthetic drugs, cited as the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012.  In addition to scheduling these chemicals in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the Senate bill also gives the Drug Enforcement Administration more flexibility to emergency schedule substances, allowing for dangerous drugs to be removed from the market more quickly in the future.  While the House-passed FDA user fee bill lacks these provisions, the House of Representatives passed similar synthetic drug legislation in 2011 with bipartisan support.  While this legislation has languished in Congress, many states, including Pennsylvania, have passed their own bans on the ingredients found in bath salts and other designer drugs.  Without a permanent federal ban, however, authorities can do little to stem the flow of synthetic drugs across state lines and over the Internet. 

With the public demanding action, the time is long overdue for both chambers to come together and send a law to the President’s desk that addresses a problem which has touched nearly every corner of the country.  As you seek to reconcile the House and Senate FDA user fee bills, I urge you to preserve the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012.


Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator