eBay to Pay $59 Million Illegal Pill Press Settlement

(RightWing.org) – Online auction giant eBay has agreed to pay a multimillion-dollar fine and improve its compliance programs after the Justice Department accused it of selling drug-making equipment. The company sold thousands of machines that could make pills or fill capsules, and many of them ended up in the hands of drug gangs. Many of the fentanyl-laced fake pills that are killing Americans were made in machines bought from eBay.

On January 31, eBay said it would pay a $59 million dollar fine and put more effort into tracking who’s buying and selling what on its platform. The move is to settle a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice, which has accused eBay of failing to comply with Drug Enforcement Administration rules on record-keeping and reporting of drug-related purchases.

Specifically, the DoJ says eBay sold large numbers of pill-pressing and encapsulating machines without checking who was buying them. Some of these machines are capable of manufacturing thousands of pills an hour –- and drug gangs have used them to make fake medications containing the lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The allegations against eBay are for violations of the 1971 Controlled Substances Act. Although this law mostly regulates controlled drugs, it also covers “precursor” chemicals, which can be used to make the drugs –- and the DEA has expanded this definition to include equipment that can be used to manufacture them.

While there are legitimate uses for pill-pressing or encapsulating machines, many people who bought them on eBay were also buying pressing dies to make counterfeits of legitimate pharmaceuticals; eBay should have picked up on this and reported the sales as suspicious.

Following the settlement, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said these fake pills are “killing Americans… eBay and other e-commerce platforms must do their part to protect the public.” By imposing such a heavy fine, the DoJ has given these companies a strong incentive to comply.

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