Big tech tackles the opioid crisis at FDA closed summit

Technology giants Google and Facebook were among various organizations that participated in the FDA's closed opioid summit April 2, where the tech leaders detailed their efforts to combat the epidemic.

The second annual event focused on the increase in illegal opioid sales over the internet, and establishing measures to reduce the availability of the drugs online. In 2017, 47,600 people in the U.S. died from opioid overdose, a 13 percent increase over the number killed in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

"We're continuing our work with other stakeholders to identify opportunities to reduce the illegal online sale of opioids, including internet companies who've taken concrete steps to combat the illegal sale of opioids through their platforms and services," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a news release. "These partnerships can have a significant impact in the fight against opioid addiction."

Dr. Gottlieb cited Google's efforts to remove websites from its search engine platform that market the illegal sale of opioids as well as Facebook's approach to redirect users looking to purchase opioids online to government help lines.

In addition to health risks associated with illegally purchasing opioids online, consumers also may become vulnerable to credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses, according to the report.

Amazon and Twitter also participated in the summit, according to the Politco Morning eHealth newsletter.

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