Silicon Valley is stepping up to help fight the U.S. opioid crisis. Companies including Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter will meet for an "Opioid Summit" hosted by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday in Washington D.C.
The goal of the summit is to crack down on the illicit sale of opioids on Internet platforms, which has increased dramatically in recent years. Revenues from online illicit drug sales grew from between $15 and $17 million in 2012 to between $150 and $180 million in 2015, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University.
During the past decade, opioid-related deaths have also skyrocketed, from around 12,900 in 2005 to more than 42,000 is 2016, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA. An average of 115 Americans die every day from opioid abuse. The overprescription of legal painkillers like Oxycontin and an influx of heroin have contributed to the problem.
The Opioid Summit will address the state of the opioid crisis and invite Internet stakeholders to present how their companies are trying to combat the sale of the drugs on their sites. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has also invited government entities, academic researchers and advocacy groups to participate in the event.
Facebook is one such company that recently announced efforts to prevent the sale of opioids on its site. Facebook users who try to buy opioids or search for addiction treatment will be pointed toward information about finding free and confidential treatment referrals. Then, users will be directed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline, at 1-800-799-4889.