Trump administration orders Amazon and eBay to stop selling dozens of disinfectants that claim to combat COVID-19

Crystal Cox / Business Insider
  • The Trump administration on Wednesday ordered Amazon and eBay to stop selling more than 70 unproven or harmful disinfectants and pesticides.
  • The targeted products sold on eBay’s site included “Virus Shut Out,” which “claimed to be a spatial disinfection card that would provide coronavirus protection to the wearer.”
  • Amazon said it has removed the products identified by the EPA order and is “taking action against the bad actors who listed them.”
  • An eBay spokesperson said, “Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that are unsafe, make false health claims or violate our zero-tolerance price gouging policy.”
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The Trump administration ordered Amazon and eBay on Wednesday to stop selling unproven or harmful disinfectants and pesticides, some of which claim to prevent or kill COVID-19.

The orders, sent by the Environmental Protection Agency, targeted roughly 70 products, including more than 30 on Amazon’s site and more than 40 on eBay’s site. Bloomberg previously reported on the orders.

The EPA said the stop-sale orders were meant to protect people and the environment from “misleading and harmful claims from two of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

The targeted products sold on eBay’s site included “Virus Shut Out,” which “claimed to be a spatial disinfection card that would provide coronavirus protection to the wearer,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. eBay’s site also sold 55-gallon drums of Methylene Chloride that were marketed for use as a coronavirus disinfectant and paint remover.

“Not only is Methylene Chloride unapproved for use against the novel coronavirus, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA banned the retail sale of Methylene Chloride to consumers for paint removal purposes due to acute fatalities that resulted from exposure to the chemical,” the EPA said.

An eBay spokesperson said, “Our priority at eBay remains ensuring the safety of our customers and employees around the world. Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that are unsafe, make false health claims or violate our zero-tolerance price gouging policy.”

The EPA also targeted the sale on Amazon’s site of Chlorine Dioxide “with unprovable claims of sanitizing and disinfecting hospitals, offices and homes,” among other items.

Amazon said it has removed the products identified by the EPA order and is “taking action against the bad actors who listed them.”

“Amazon requires that sellers provide accurate information on product detail pages and put processes in place to proactively block inaccurate claims about COVID-19 before they are published to our store,” a spokesperson said. “We’ve also developed specific tools for COVID-19 that run 24/7 to scan the hundreds of millions of product detail pages for any inaccurate claims that our initial filters may have missed. Collectively, our efforts have blocked more than 6.5 million products.”

Many of the items identified in the dual orders are unregistered by the EPA, which means they didn’t undergo testing to ensure effectiveness and safety, the agency said.

“These stop sale orders to Amazon and eBay demonstrate the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to protecting the health and safety of Americans,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We remain vigilant against the claims of producers that falsely assert their efficacy and safety. Of particular concern are products that falsely claim to be effective against COVID-19. It is our duty to continue transparent communication with the public on unregistered products that may cause injury to consumers, and immediately remove them from commerce.”

A full list of the products identified by the EPA orders can be found here and here.

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