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Commerce Department Announces NTIA Pilot Program with HHS, FDA to Fight Illegal Online Opioid Sales

June 08, 2020
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Commerce Department

Today, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 120-day pilot program to curb illegal online sales of unapproved opioids. Under the program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will work with three domain name registries, Neustar (.us), Verisign (.com, .net) and Public Interest Registry (.org), to suspend the domain names of websites found to be illegally selling unapproved opioids.

For the duration of the pilot, FDA will serve as a “trusted notifier” to alert the registries about websites that are illegally selling unapproved opioids. Upon receiving notice from the FDA, a registry may then voluntarily lock the domain, delete the domain, or place the domain on hold, as appropriate. The “trusted notifier” designation expedites the process for suspending domain name registrations.

“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.”

“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.”

At the end of the pilot program, NTIA, FDA, and the domain name registries will analyze the program’s effectiveness and its potential as a long-term solution to combatting the illegal sale of unapproved opioids online.

NTIA and FDA announced the partnership in an effort to combat the opioid crisis during the FDA’s 2nd Online Opioid Summit []. The agencies believe the program can contribute to ongoing best practices by Internet companies for reducing the availability of unapproved opioids offered for sale online.