The Orange County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution by a vote of 18-0 at its December meeting on Thursday, calling for New York State to classify as controlled substances certain Fentanyl “analogues” responsible for opioid overdose deaths.

Approximately 102 people in Orange County have died this year due to opioid overdoses. Eighteen of these overdoses were the result, in part, of the deceased’s use of one or more Fentanyl analogues that were not controlled substances and were not illegal when the deceased used them.

Fentanyl “analogues” are drugs that have been designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of Fentanyl, but that are not controlled substances in the State of New York because they are not listed on the appropriate schedules that classify controlled substances in New York State Public Health Law Section 3306. According to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute sellers of deadly opioid drugs is hampered by the gap in the law that results in some Fentanyl analogues not being classified as controlled substances because the New York State Legislature has not added those analogues to the appropriate Public Health Law schedules.

“As a result of the failure of our State Legislature to define some Fentanyl analogues as controlled substances, the illegal drug chemists are constantly ahead of law enforcement,” Hoovler said. “One or two substances get added to the Public Health Law schedules; the criminals develop several more, which aren’t controlled substances until the State Legislature acts. And, of course, State legislative action can take years, if it occurs at all. People are dying and we can’t keep falling behind the drug dealers.”

Hoovler added: “We owe it to our residents to make this effort, and I commend the Orange County Legislature for taking the forefront on this important issue.”

“I want to thank my colleagues in the Orange County Legislature for supporting this important measure,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “The State legislation called for today is an essential step in allowing law enforcement to investigate illegal drug manufacturers and sellers, and to seize dangerous Fentanyl analogues, before they fall into the hands of those who would abuse them. It would also serve to provide law enforcement with more options to effectively deal with these narcotics that are devastating our families.”