eBay Ordered to Pay $59 Million for Selling Pill-Making Tools


eBay has reached a settlement agreement with the US justice department, agreeing to pay $59m (£46.3m) over allegations that it sold equipment capable of manufacturing illegal drugs. The department claimed that the online marketplace sold thousands of pill presses and encapsulating machines, which were later used by individuals convicted of drug-related crimes. These machines can be used to produce counterfeit pills, including those containing fentanyl, a powerful opioid. The sale of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl has been a significant contributor to the ongoing opioid crisis in many US states. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta emphasized the department’s commitment to using all available enforcement measures to ensure compliance with the law by companies selling pill-making equipment. The US government accused eBay of failing to comply with the Controlled Substances Act, which requires strict record-keeping and reporting to the Drug Enforcement Administration. eBay denied the allegations but settled the case to avoid litigation costs. As part of the settlement, the company has pledged to take further actions to comply with the law. The investigation revealed that many customers who purchased pill presses also bought counterfeit moulds, stamps, or dyes to produce counterfeit pharmaceutical pills. In 2022, drug overdoses claimed the lives of over 110,000 people in the US, with more than two-thirds of those deaths attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The city of Portland recently declared a state of emergency due to the widespread use of fentanyl in Oregon’s largest city.

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