Recent Report Cites Growing Toll of Fentanyl-Laced Pills in Miss. Overdose Deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined seven colleagues in an effort to hold the CEOs of Instagram, TikTok, Snap Inc., and YouTube accountable for the role their platforms play in the nation’s overdose death crisis.

In a letter to the executives, the Senators demand answers on what actions the companies are taking to prevent the sale of fentanyl-laced pills to teenagers and young adults on their social media platforms.  Senators also contend the escalating crisis is fueled by drug smuggling linked to President Biden’s failing southern border policies.

“Overdose deaths related to fentanyl in Mississippi are increasing, some of it linked to illegal drug buys facilitated by social media.  It’s time for answers and action by these companies to combat this crisis,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

According to a March 2022 Mississippi State Department of Health report, 69 percent of overdose deaths in Mississippi in 2020 involved opioids, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl accounting for 53 percent of all overdose deaths—up from 35 percent a year before.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) authored the letter to the social media executives.  It was also signed by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.).

“We write to you today regarding reports that the use of your social media platforms has been linked to the sale of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that have caused the deaths of teens and young adults across the country.  In light of the devastating rise in drug overdose deaths in the U.S., especially linked to fentanyl, we are requesting more information regarding steps your companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on your platforms,” the Senators wrote.

“Social media platforms like yours provide a convenient venue for dealers to anonymously and discreetly peddle these counterfeit pills to a young audience.  With 4 in 10 of these pills containing a lethal dose of fentanyl, more and more of these online transactions are ending in tragedy,” the Senators continued.

Click here to read the full letter to social media CEOs, including specific questions regarding tracking/banning drug dealers, law enforcement coordination, and public awareness.