eBay Settles Lawsuit for $59m Over Sale of Drug Manufacturing Equipment
eBay has agreed to pay $59m (£46.3m) to settle a lawsuit filed by the US justice department, which claimed that the e-commerce giant sold equipment capable of manufacturing illegal drugs. The lawsuit alleged that thousands of pill presses and encapsulating machines were sold on the site, including to individuals who were later convicted of drug-related crimes. These machines can be used to produce counterfeit pills, some of which are laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl. This settlement comes at a time when many states in the US are grappling with opioid crises.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta emphasized the role of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl in contributing to the overdose epidemic, stating that the justice department is committed to using all available enforcement measures to ensure that companies selling pill-making equipment abide by the law.
The lawsuit specifically accused eBay of failing to comply with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which mandates strict record-keeping and reporting to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal prosecutors claimed that the pill presses sold on the site have the capacity to produce thousands of pills per hour, while encapsulating machines were also available for purchase.
eBay has denied the allegations but settled the case to avoid litigation costs. As part of the settlement, the company has pledged to take additional actions to comply with the CSA. In a statement, eBay emphasized its commitment to maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace for its global community of sellers and buyers.
During its investigation, the US government discovered that many customers who purchased pill presses also bought counterfeit moulds, stamps, or dyes to produce counterfeit pharmaceutical pills. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, drug overdoses claimed the lives of over 110,000 people in the US in 2022, with more than two-thirds of those deaths attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
In response to the rampant use of fentanyl, the city of Portland recently declared a state of emergency in Oregon’s largest city.