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DEA issues letter to e-commerce companies over illegal pill-making machines

LEGO and fentanyl pills found by officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration

(Reuters) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a letter on Monday to e-commerce companies regarding the pill presses that are being used to make fentanyl pills.

The DEA has found pill presses, punches and other substances that can be used to make fake pills containing fentanyl are being offered for sale on various platforms.

In 2023, the DEA seized over 79 million fake pills containing fentanyl - a more than 33% increase from the year before.

The DEA's laboratory testing currently indicates that seven out of ten pills contain a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl.

"E-commerce platforms cannot turn a blind eye to the fentanyl crisis and to the sale of pill presses on their platforms. They must do their part to protect the public, and when they do not, DEA will hold them accountable," said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

Drug traffickers are using tableting and encapsulating machines - commonly referred to as pill presses - to press fentanyl into pills, and are imprinting marks and logos to make them look like legitimate prescription pills, the DEA said in the letter.

The pills contain fentanyl and other deadly drugs and are sold on social media, often to people who do not know that the pills are not real or that they contain deadly drugs, the federal agency said.

Last month, e-commerce platform eBay Inc agreed to pay $59 million and to enhance its compliance program to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in connection with thousands of pill presses and encapsulating machines that were sold through its website.

As regulated entities under the CSA, e-commerce platforms are generally required to comply with recordkeeping, identification, and reporting requirements on the distribution, importation, and exportation of pill press machines.

(Reporting by Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)