Google Pays $500M for Settlement of Illegal Pharmacy Ads Claim

pills-1-270x167Google decided to pay out $500 million to settle claims that it earned from ads for illegal Canadian pharmacies.  It is one of the largest economic forfeiture penalties yet.

Through permitting the companies to put ads through the AdWords program, according to the Justice Department, the company contributed to the illegal import of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs.  Google, says the Justice Department, knew it was illegal since 2003.

Peter F. Neronha, US attorney says, “This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian online pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to US consumers.”

“It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching US 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.”

The Office of the US attorney in Rhode Island says Google knew since eight years ago that overseas pharmacies were advertising through AdWords, and while it blocked the pharmacies from other countries, it permitted the Canadian ones to go on.

Certainly, more than the next six years, Google even provided the pharmacies help in putting and optimizing their AdWords advertisements, and in increasing the efficiency of their websites.

The investigation of Justice Department came on by chance, as part of a search into a multi-million-dollar financial fraud.  The major suspect escaped to Mexico and begun selling prohibited drugs through AdWords.  When he was finally trapped, he cooperated with the Justice Department and spilled the beans about his use of AdWords.

At present, Google assured to introduce a series of compliance and reporting measures planned to assure that it does not happen again.