Google to pay $500m to settle DOJ pharma ads charges

It's one of the largest forfeiture penalties in US history

Google has agreed to pay $US500 million to settle allegations from the US government that it let online pharmacies in Canada use its AdWords system to advertise prescription drugs to US consumers, resulting in illegal importation of the medicines into the US.

"The forfeiture, one of the largest ever in the United States, represents the gross revenue received by Google as a result of Canadian pharmacies advertising through Google's AdWords program, plus gross revenue made by Canadian pharmacies from their sales to U.S. consumers," the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the DOJ, Google became aware as early as 2003 that the shipment of prescription drugs from abroad, and specifically from Canada, to US residents is usually illegal, potentially violating several statutes, including the Controlled Substances Act, and endangering the health and safety of consumers. Yet, Google didn't attempt to modify its practices until 2009, after it became aware that it was being investigated by the US government, the DOJ said.

"While Canada has its own regulatory rules for prescription drugs, Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to US residents are not subject to Canadian regulatory authority, and many sell drugs obtained from countries other than Canada which lack adequate pharmacy regulations," the DOJ statement reads.

In response, Google said that it stopped selling ad space to Canadian pharmacies "some time ago."

"However, it's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place. Given the extensive coverage this settlement has already received, we won't be commenting further," Google said in a statement.

Google had disclosed months ago that it was setting aside $US500 million to potentially settle a US government investigation into its advertising practices.

As part of the settlement, Google admits improperly assisting Canadian online pharmacy advertisers on running ads to target U.S. consumers via AdWords, the DOJ said. The agreement also establishes "compliance and reporting measures" Google must adopt to make sure it doesn't again engage in this type of advertising practices, according to the DOJ.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags advertisingGoogleregulationlegislationgovernmentinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?