Lawmakers Press Amazon on Sales of Chemical Used in Suicides

In a written response to the lawmakers on Thursday, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, extended condolences to families of the dead while defending Amazon’s practices and sales of the compound. He said it was used for a range of purposes and was available from other retailers.

“Amazon makes a wide selection of products available to our customers because we trust that they will use those products as intended by the manufacturers,” he wrote. “Like many widely-available consumer products,” he added, the compound “can unfortunately be misused.”

The lawmakers found the company’s answers insufficient.

“Amazon had the opportunity with their response to collaborate with us on this issue that’s tragically ending the lives of people across our nation,” Representative Trahan said. “Instead, they failed to answer many of our most critical questions”

In email exchanges with The Times, an Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the 10 deaths that The Times identified.

Other sites said they had restricted sales of the compound.

Last year, an eBay director wrote to a coroner in England that the company had prohibited global sales of the compound in 2019 after receiving a report of its potential use in suicides. However, The Times identified eight suicides involving eBay sales of the poison since then, including a death the coroner was reviewing.

EBay did not respond to detailed emails and messages seeking comment. But in the letter to the coroner, the eBay director acknowledged that despite the ban, it was possible for “unscrupulous or unaware sellers to circumvent our policies and filters.” He wrote that the company would support government restrictions on online sales of the chemical to prevent future suicides.

In November 2020, Etsy banned sales of the compound, said a spokesperson, who declined to explain why. An Etsy customer posted in May 2018 that he was planning to use his purchase to kill himself. In August 2020, a 35-year-old in Mississippi wrote on the suicide site that he had bought the compound on the site. Days later, he was dead.

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