Former homeland security secretary calls on USPS to better screen packages for illegal opioids

The nation's first Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge is calling on the federal government to improve screening for the international shipment of synthetic opioids via the United States Postal Service, according to Trib Live.

An estimated 1 million packages enter the U.S. every day without any electronic information that could flag the presence of illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl. These unscreened imports are likely contributing to flare-ups of opioid overdose deaths across the country, according to the report.

"I'm beyond surprised that they wouldn't take a more aggressive approach to this," said Mr. Ridge, the one-time governor of Pennsylvania who now serves as a senior adviser for the District of Columbia-based nonprofit Americans for Securing All Packages.

Mr. Ridge argues private entities like United Parcel Service and FedEx should adhere to more rigorous safety protocols such as using advance electronic security data to track U.S.-bound packages from abroad, according to Trib Live. USPS is behind the curve on implementing such security measures.

"The private sector, working with law enforcement, successfully implemented an advanced electronic security data system more than 15 years ago, and the same should be expected of a government agency who handles the bulk of all packages being brought into the United States," said UPS spokeswoman Kara Ross, according to Trib Live.

A USPS spokesperson did not respond to Trib Live's request for comment.

Nearly 13,000 people died of heroin-related overdose deaths in 2015, surpassing gun homicides as the more prolific killer. A contributing factor in the rising rates of heroin overdoses is the proliferation of deadly fentanyl-laced heroin.

More articles on opioids: 
Modest use of alcohol and opioids linked to respiratory depression 
AMA urges state attorneys general to end preauthorization for opioid abuse treatment 
CDC issues report on string of fentanyl overdoses in Connecticut: 5 takeaways

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