New federal pilot program to help stop illegal availability of unapproved opioids online

June 9, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are launching a 120-day pilot to help reduce the availability of unapproved opioids illegally offered for sale online. 

Under the pilot, the FDA will notify internet registries that are participating in the pilot – Neustar, Verisign and Public Interest Registry – when the agency sends a warning letter to a website operator and the website operator does not respond adequately within the required timeframe. The internet registries will review the FDA’s notifications and assess whether to take further voluntary action, including possible domain name suspensions or blocks. The NTIA, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, responsible for telecommunications and information policy issues, will work with the internet registries involved in the pilot, and partner with the FDA to assess its impact. 

“Cooperation between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce, with the addition of the pilot program, will help stop the online sale of illicit opioids and combat our country’s deadly addiction crisis,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Stopping abuse of illegal opioids, including those sold online, has been one of President Trump’s top health priorities. The men and women of FDA have worked tirelessly over the years with the private sector and federal partners, like NTIA, to fight illegal online opioid sales.”

“The trusted notifier pilot program is another new policy tool in President Trump’s fight to end the opioid crisis,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The Commerce Department is eager to work with our partners at HHS, FDA, and the domain name registries to remove a major channel for the sale of illicit opioids, which will help save many American lives.”

At the end of the pilot, the agencies will analyze its effectiveness as a potential solution to dealing with the illegal sale of unapproved opioids online.

FDA has the release.