Opioid addiction and abuse remains an immense public health crisis. We're committed to continuing to take new steps to address these protracted dangers from every possible angle.
A crisis of this magnitude requires broad, collaborative and creative approaches. We're especially aware that as we take more actions to curb the lawful prescribing of prescription opioids, our actions will inevitably push more and more people to obtaining opioids from illicit sources. And we know that digital drug dealers and other criminals are increasingly selling their illicit opioids through the internet, including social media and illegal online pharmacies. This activity is contributing to the public health emergency of opioid-related overdose deaths that have ripped apart families and communities. We aim to confront these new threats.
We know that the internet – both the surface and the dark web – aren't the only marketplaces for the illegal sale of prescription drugs. But they're perhaps the most far-reaching conduit for illicit drugs, and these new avenues present unique challenges for tech companies, law enforcement, as well as for the US FDA.
As we discussed yesterday, there's no gray area here: no controlled substances, including opioids, can be lawfully sold or even offered to be sold online. In the past, we've been one step behind the opioid epidemic. We cannot continue to be. We must stay one step ahead of this burgeoning crisis by frustrating and eventually stopping these digital drug dealers. We cannot ignore this space simply because other illicit sources of opioids, such as diversion, theft and smuggling, are still the more predominant routes by which people currently obtain illegal drugs. We're going to take new steps, and direct new investigative and criminal oversight resources, to stop the illegal sale of opioids online. But we cannot do it alone.
We appreciate the candid dialogue we had with summit participants, and their willingness to share information about the unique nature of their platforms, as well as existing surveillance and security protocols. While we agreed to safeguard some of the sensitive discussion points, especially to make sure that we don't tip off the bad actors who are closely watching our tactics and trying to stay ahead of our efforts, in the interest of transparency, I want to provide an overview of some of the main themes and takeaways from the presentations and roundtable discussion that took place throughout the day.
We heard from all the attendees about the important efforts they're taking to tackle this problem, and it's important that we acknowledge that positive steps are underway. We also discussed the various challenges that stakeholders viewed as potential barriers to take the next steps in some cases, from a lack of data that would help inform their approaches, to the potential policy and regulatory concerns.
Some of the approaches we heard during the summit were promoting legitimate or educational content in top search results or social media posts, and making it harder for individuals to find illegal sellers online. We also discussed ways to make use of big data and machine learning/artificial intelligence to identify illegal activity. And we heard about efforts to make public health resources more accessible – such as educational information about the risks of purchasing opioids online, and connecting individuals and family members to validated treatment programs to support those who are seeking a path toward recovery.