Congressional lawmakers on Wednesday announced a bill meant to crack down on synthetic drugs like fentanyl amid a sharp rise in overdose deaths in the last year. 

The proposal, backed by New York Reps. John Katko, a Republican from Central New York, and Long Island Democrat Kathleen Rice, would create a temporary regulation of substances that are similar to the controlled drugs while more research and analysis can be conducted. 

The substances would be added to a new category of controlled substances if their chemical structure is substantially similar to existing controlled substances and have similar or great effects on the human body. The measure is meant to boost the control of drugs deisgned to be used in an illicit manner as drugs that are already regulated or fully outlawd. 

The bill would apply criminal penalties already on the books for manufacturers, imports and exporters of Schedule A substances. The proposal would also include provisions designed to ensure legitimate research on substances placed on Schedule A can be undertaken. 

“Fueled by the proliferation of synthetic drugs like fentanyl, newly released data from the CDC found that drug-overdose related deaths surged by nearly 30% in 2020,” Katko said. “Locally, in the first quarter of 2021, Onondaga County reported 47 opioid deaths, with 45 of those deaths involving fentanyl, a potent and deadly synthetic drug.”