Opioid Crisis Still A “National Public Health Emergency” FDA Summit Warns

Federal drug regulators recently hosted a summit focusing on ways to prevent illegal sales of opioids on the internet, and warned that the abuse and addiction crisis in communities throughout the U.S. still poses a “national public health emergency.”

The FDA Online Opioid Summit “Reducing the Availability of Opioids Online” was held September 9, and was the third in a series the FDA has hosted to discuss ways to combat the opioid crisis, specifically addressing the illegal availability of the powerful and addictive medications online.

In recent years, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids has increased more than 1,000%, largely driven by illicitly obtained drugs, many of which were sold through the internet.

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The agency indicates that it continues to see websites and other online platforms which easily allow US consumers to purchase opioids illegally. Those websites also sell other drugs illicitly, including benzodiazepines and stimulants.

“The opioid crisis continues to be a national public health emergency with devastating and far-reaching consequences extending into nearly every community,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in the press release. “A key component of the FDA’s multipronged response is reducing the volume of opioids entering the country outside of the legitimate supply chain, including through illegal online sales.”

Attendees discussed ways to reduce the volume of opioids entering the country illegally, including online. Other topics discussed at the summit included online opioid purchasing, younger populations being exposed to opioids through social media and other online platforms, and new ways to prevent the illegal sale of opioids on the internet.

The summit was attended by stakeholders in all areas of the opioid crisis, including government entities, academia, and other partners within the internet ecosystem. FDA summits provide attendees an opportunity to collaborate on meaningful ways to help reduce the availability of opioids online.

The FDA recently announced a similar online workshop focused on the opioid epidemic scheduled for October 13 and 14, which will discuss implementing a mandatory education program for doctors dispensing opioids. The program would help to make the criteria and methods for prescribing uniform throughout the US and across all types of entities as the opioid epidemic has been largely blamed on doctor prescribing habits.

Health experts say the need to address various issues involved in combating the worsening opioid crisis is now necessary more than ever, as nearly 70% of all drug overdoses in the United States now involve opioids.


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