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October 23, 2017
Lawmakers seek information on drug risks to postal workers

Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have requested an audit to examine how the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is training and preparing its workforce to respond to the risk posed by the illegal shipment of synthetic opioids.

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In a letter to Tammy Whitcomb, acting USPS inspector general, the chairman and ranking member of the committee write, “The safety of the nation’s 600,000 postal service employees is of critical importance and we would like to understand the measures the postal service has put in place to mitigate these evolving threats.”

Specifically, the lawmakers note concern about the escalating importation of drugs including fentanyl, which they describe as a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. In June, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a video warning emergency responder about the dangers of fentanyl and urged extreme caution. In the video, the acting head of DEA warns views to assume the worst and to not touch the substances or their wrappings without the proper personal protective equipment.

The letter also notes situations in which police officers have overdosed after brief contact with small quantities of the drug carfentanil. The committee leaders requested a review of USPS measures to protect personnel including procedures, training materials, and communication plans. The letter was signed by committee chairman Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, and Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland.

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