Google Settles with DOJ for $500 Million Over Drug Ads

Monday, August 29, 2011



Online search engine giant Google has agreed to forfeit $500 million to settle allegations that the company knowingly profited from online Canadian pharmacy advertising aimed at customers in the United States.


The compliant alleged that the advertisements trough Google's AdWords program resulted in the illegal importation of controlled and uncontrolled pharmaceuticals.


“Today’s agreement demonstrates the commitment of the Food and Drug Administration to protect the US consumer and hold all contributing parties accountable for conduct that results in vast profits at the expense of the public health,” said FDA/OCI Acting Director Martin-Weis. 


“The result of this investigation has been a fundamental transformation of Internet pharmacy advertising practices, significantly limiting promotion to US consumers by rogue online pharmacies," Martin-Weis said.


The settlement, one of the largest in history, requires Google to acknowledge misconduct in the case. Investigators believe the company was aware it was acting improperly as early as 2003.


“The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. 


“This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history," Cole said.


According to investigators, Google made efforts to block illegal drug sales from other nations, but allowed continued sales from Canadian pharmacies directly to U.S. citizens.


Authorities were able to establish phony drug sale websites and secure advertising through Google AdWords on several occasions during the course of the investigation.


“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha.


“It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior.  It is about  holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem,” Neronha said.


The $500 million dollar forfeiture is meant to represent the profits Google made from the illegal advertising campaigns as well as an amount equal to the profits the Canadian pharmaceutical companies made during the period in question as well.




Possibly Related Articles:
Google Advertising internet Headlines DOJ Law Enforcement Online Settlement AdWords Pharmaceuticals
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