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Guthrie, E&C Leaders Demand TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and DOJ Must Do More to Combat Illicit Fentanyl Sales

Washington, September 27, 2022 | S.K. Bowen (202-225-3501)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), who serves as House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Republican Leader, joined House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (OH-05), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (VA-09) in sending letters to TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and the U.S. Department of Justice to demand that more must be done to combat illicit drug sales, including fentanyl, on social media platforms.

Excerpts from letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew:

“We write with significant concerns regarding the use of TikTok by drug dealers to sell illicit and deadly substances, especially to children and minors. We have read numerous reports and heard personal stories from parents who have tragically lost their children to fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances from pills purchased from drug dealers on TikTok. The loss of these young lives shows not enough is being done to crack down on this illegal activity and prevent criminals from exploiting your platform to sell this deadly poison.

“Our country’s communities and families are facing an unprecedented crisis due to the increasingly widespread presence of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. In 2021, nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses; 71,000 of which were from fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances. Between FY2020 and FY2021, more than 10,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl were seized at our southern border, enough to kill every American seven times over. Law enforcement in communities across the country are seizing record amounts of illicit fentanyl pills, including a case earlier this summer where two Washington State men were arrested in California with 1 million pills containing fentanyl.

“The widespread availability and sale of these illicit pills containing fentanyl has led to record levels of overdose deaths. Every overdose is a tragedy and more must be done to facilitate access to treatment for those suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD). However, many of these overdose deaths are unrelated to SUDs and have occurred in individuals taking a single pill they thought was prescription medication but was instead counterfeit and laced with fentanyl. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), these fake pills are often manufactured to resemble ‘real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).’

“Tragically, in these instances, traditional methods to combat opioid addiction and overdoses, such as SUD treatment or distribution of fentanyl test strips, are not effective. More must be done to combat this epidemic of tragic overdoses, and TikTok must do more to combat the illegal activity on its platform. A consistent theme of this crisis is the purchasing of pills believed to be something else by teenagers and youth using TikTok’s platform. TikTok must do more to combat the use of its platform for illegal activity, especially drug dealers peddling this dangerous poison.”

Click HERE to read the full letter to TikTok.

Click HERE to read the full letter to Snapchat.

Click HERE to read the full letter to Instagram.

Click HERE to read the full letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.