FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Invites Internet Stakeholders to Opioid Summit, June 27, 2018

Opioid addiction and abuse is an immense public health crisis and addressing it is one of FDA’s highest priorities. On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2016, opioids killed more than 42,000 people, surpassing even the number of deaths resulting from traffic accidents in the United States.

Given the severity of the public health emergency we are facing, the easy availability of illicit opioids online is a major public health concern:

  • According to a 2015 study by Carnegie Mellon University, revenues from online illicit drug sales grew from between $15-17 million in 2012 to $150-180 million in 2015.
  • A January 2018 report by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations provided compelling evidence concerning the ease with which average Americans can now purchase illicit opioids online.
  • Research by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that when searching online for prescription opioids across the three major search engines, nearly 91 percent of the first search results led users to an illegal online drug seller offering prescription opioids. 

One critical step to address this public health emergency is the adoption of a far more proactive approach by internet stakeholders to crack down on internet traffic in illicit drugs. Illegal online pharmacies, drug dealers, and other criminals are increasingly using the internet to further their illicit distribution of opioids, where their risk of detection and repercussions is significantly reduced.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., invited internet stakeholders, government entities, academic researchers, and advocacy groups to attend a one-day Online Opioid Summit to discuss ways to collaboratively take stronger action in combatting the opioid crisis by reducing the availability of illicit opioids online. 


FDA White Oak Campus
Building 31, Conference Center, Great Room
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

Summit agenda (PDF - 128 KB)


Invitations were sent to stakeholders who have the ability to make the most significant impact on reducing illegal online opioid sales and contribute to transformational changes in this space. Invitees include senior executives from major search engines, social media platforms, domain name registries/registrars, online marketplaces as well as advocacy groups, other government agencies, and academic researchers with expertise in this topic.

FDA Remarks

Recordings of FDA presentations and remarks will be posted soon.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., remarks

Donald Ashley, Director, CDER’s Office of Compliance presentation (PDF - 1.5 MB)


Internet stakeholders and other professionals involved in the curb of illegal online opioid sales may contact FDA by emailing FDAInternetPharmacyTaskForce-CDER@fda.hhs.gov.

Page Last Updated: 06/27/2018
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