eBay and the Department of Justice settle over pill press sales

On January 31, 2024, eBay and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement: In return for not prosecuting eBay for alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) related to the sale of pill presses and encapsulating machines since 2015, eBay will pay $59 million and strengthen compliance programs around the sale of these machines on their platforms.

In a statement, eBay reiterated that the company “expressly denies the DOJ’s allegations and the settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing.”

The Partnership for Safe Medicines has monitored the online pill press market for years, which means we have witnessed eBay’s efforts to successfully suppress the sale of these products on its platform. In light of this settlement, it is likely that other platforms that could be used to sell pill presses and encapsulating machines may ban these sales rather than undertake the burden of compliance. In the future, pill press sales will likely be confined to overseas platforms that are more difficult for U.S. regulators to reach.

This appears to be the first time that the U.S. Department of Justice has applied the “broker” role in this statute to an online marketplace for pill press or encapsulating machine transactions. This follows the Biden administration’s novel use of Treasury sanctions against Chinese pill press manufacturers in 2023.

Read the full analysis and the settlement document on the Partnership for Safe Medicines website.

Family navigates grief a year after son’s death

Barry and Lisa Bennett hold a graduation photo of their son, 22-year-old Mason Bennett, who died a year ago Thursday. Olivia Neeley | Times

After a fleeting moment of peace each morning, it doesn’t take long for the gut-wrenching reality to set in for Lisa Bennett.

“When you go to sleep and you wake up … you have this brief second where you think everything is fine and (then) it hits you over and over again, day after day,” she said through tears.

For Bennett, her reality is facing yet another day without her 22-year-old son, Mason Bennett. Thursday marks the first anniversary of his death. Bennett contends he died after taking what he believed was a 30 mg Percocet, a prescription painkiller.

“It wasn’t a Percocet,” Bennett said. “It was a pressed pill, which is mostly what’s being sold now. There was nothing else in it other than cocaine and fentanyl.”

Eight months after Mason’s death, Wilson police charged 21-year-old Claire Brittle in connection with his death. Brittle faces a felony death by distribution charge as well as several drug-related charges.

Police said Brittle was “responsible for selling the victim narcotics at the time of his death,” according to a Wilson Police Department press release. When police arrested Brittle in October, they found various drugs in her home, including “85 dosage units of pressed Percocet pills,” according to arrest warrants.

Brittle was also charged with felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Arrest warrants indicate that charge relates to fentanyl possession.

Continue reading “Family navigates grief a year after son’s death”