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.

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