(NEW YORK) — The Justice Department announced a $59 million settlement with eBay on Wednesday to resolve allegations that the e-commerce company made it easy for thousands of pill presses to be sold on its website that could be used by criminals to make illegal drugs.
The company has agreed to pay the steep financial penalty — the fourth largest settlement ever through the Controlled Substances Act – and implement a series of changes that will make it harder for the pill presses and other related items to be sold in the future.
The DOJ said it found that through a review of the company’s policies that it failed to require identity verification of purchasers of the pill processers, some of which had the capability of pressing thousands of pills per hour. Such machines are commonly used by drug dealers who manufacture counterfeit pills that can be laced with fentanyl, the DOJ said.
“Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are a significant contributor to the deadly overdose epidemic,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, chair of the Department of Justice’s Opioid Epidemic Civil Litigation Task Force. “The Department is committed to using all available enforcement measures to ensure that companies involved in selling the equipment that makes it possible to create these dangerous pills comply with the Controlled Substances Act.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, eBay agreed to maintain and enhance its compliance program with respect to its prohibited and restricted items policy on the sales of pill presses, counterfeit molds, stamps and dies, and encapsulating machines, the department said.
In a statement, the company said it “expressly denies the DOJ’s allegations and the settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing.”
The statement added, “eBay’s actions to remove products that could be used for counterfeit pills – including dies, molds and pill presses – prior to any request from the DOJ or other authorities, and years before the government turned its attention to these products, prevented tens of thousands of potentially problematic listings from appearing on our marketplace. Government officials have repeatedly commended eBay for our partnership with law enforcement and efforts to support investigations into illegal pill press usage.”
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