PSM supports parent-led effort to rid social media of drug trafficking

New paper outlines best practices for social media platforms and highlights Facebook drug seller operating openly

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 26, 2022) – On Tuesday, September 27th, a parent-led commission working on the problem of drug trafficking on social media will release recommendations for social media companies to curb drug dealers who sell deadly substances on their platforms.

Shabbir Safdar, Executive Director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) served as a commission co-author. In praising the report, Safdar said, “PSM has tracked reports of 75 deaths across over 20 states linked to counterfeit prescription pills sold on social media since March 2019. Victims ranged in age from 13 to 32, and many of them had no idea the pills they had purchased were fakes.”  PSM has tracked the deaths for more than three years—centuries in internet time—and they continue today despite assurances from social media companies that this problem is being handled.

PSM's September 21 video previews the report.

Parent advocates Steve Filson and Amy Neville, both of whom lost children to drugs adulterated with fentanyl, convened the Commission after they learned that social media platforms were not devoting enough resources to stopping this problem. Even as reports of deaths have accelerated, illicit drugs were still readily available on these sites and transparency reports confirmed what law enforcement told them: that when there were legal investigations of drug sales, platforms did not consistently respond to court-ordered requests for information.

At the launch event on zoom on Tuesday at 1pm Eastern (register here), Safdar will demonstrate one example of a drug seller who has operated on Facebook for over six months, despite PSM research staff repeatedly reporting the page to Facebook’s security team.

The Commission interviewed public safety experts, law enforcement officers, regulators, and researchers to gain a better understanding of how platform policies, content monitoring and reporting programs, and response to law enforcement could be improved to create safer environments for users.

Find the resulting report, Best Practices to Rid Social Media of Drug Trafficking, on the Victims of Illicit Drugs Website at: at 10am Pacific September 27th. Click here to register for the launch event on zoom.

About the Partnership for Safe Medicines

The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is a public health group comprised of non-profit organizations that handle medicine from the factory floor to the patient and are committed to the safety of prescription drugs. To learn more, visit