In October 2018, Congress passed the SUPPORT Act (Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment [SUPPORT] for Patients and Communities), giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration new authorities to intercept illegal drugs through international mail. This included funds for space and equipment as well as additional Agency scientists and investigators in the International Mail Facilities (IMFs). It also opened the way for scientists at the FDA’s Forensic Chemistry Center (FCC) in Cincinnati to develop an innovative approach to bring drug detection to the points of entry.
In collaboration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and in support of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by both organizations’ commissioners, the FDA’s Medical Products and Specialty Laboratory Operations scientists conducted a pilot project at the Chicago IMF satellite laboratory. Completed in 2020, the Agency is now working to expand this effort, with satellite laboratories at IMFs opening in Miami, summer of 2023 with additional laboratories in New York/JFK, and Los Angeles/LAX. A screening laboratory with HCFAC support also opened in Guam in July.
In fiscal year 2022, the FDA screened approximately 52,800 parcels containing 100,400 products at IMF facilities. The FDA subsequently refused more than 71,000 of those products and over 56,000 were identified as violative drugs and destroyed using FDA’s administrative destruction authority. So far in 2023, the FDA has screened approximately 31,200 parcels containing over 63,500 products. Of these products, more than 38,000 were refused admission and more than 31,000 were violative drug products that have been destroyed.