eBay Agrees To Pay $59m Settlement Over Sales Of Pill-Making Equipment

The equipment can be used to make counterfeit pills, including those laced with fentanyl.

eBay Agrees To Pay $59m Settlement Over Sales Of Pill-Making Equipment

eBay has agreed to pay $59 million (£46.3 million) to settle charges that it sold equipment capable of manufacturing illegal drugs.

The US Justice Department said that thousands of pill presses and encapsulating machines were sold on the site, including to people who were ultimately convicted of drug-related offenses.

The equipment may be used to create counterfeit medicines, including ones laced with fentanyl.

It comes as several states in the United States are facing opioid epidemics.

"Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are a significant contributor to the deadly overdose epidemic," said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, warning that the department "is committed to using all available enforcement measures" to ensure companies selling pill-making equipment comply with the law.

Federal prosecutors said that the e-commerce giant violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which compels corporations to keep rigorous records and report them to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The government says that the pill presses advertised on the site can produce thousands of pills every hour. Encapsulating machines, used to pack powder into pill capsules, were also offered.

eBay has contested the charges, stating that it resolved the matter to minimize litigation expenses but has agreed to take additional steps to comply with the CSA as part of the deal.

"Maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace for our global community of sellers and buyers is a fundamental principle of our business," the company said in a press release.

During their investigation, US officials discovered that hundreds of customers who purchased pill presses also purchased counterfeit molds, stamps, or colors to create counterfeit medical tablets.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, more than 110,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2022. Over two-thirds of those deaths were caused by the potent drug fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Portland declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in response to the widespread usage of fentanyl in Oregon's largest city.

This article was originally published on the BBC.