Google to pay $500 million for accepting online drug ads


The internet giant has settled a DOJ criminal investigation on allegations it made hundreds of millions accepting ads from online pharmacies (mostly Canadian) that break U.S. laws. Google claims it had tried to filter out these ad placements, but they found ways around it. Google has now agreed to pay $500 million to settle the probe into ads it accepted pharmacies selling drugs in the US, DOJ said 8/24.

The ads led to illegal imports of prescription drugs into the country, the Justice Department said.

The forfeiture is one of the largest ever in the US. It represents Google’s revenue from Canadian pharmacy ad to U.S. customers through Google’s AdWords program and Canadian pharmacies’ revenue from U.S. sales.

Google had previously set aside that amount for a possible settlement over its advertising practices, according to a regulatory filing in May.

“While Canada has its own regulatory rules for prescription drugs, Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to U.S. residents are not subject to Canadian regulatory authority, and many sell drugs obtained from countries other than Canada which lack adequate pharmacy regulations,” DOJ said.

Another part of the concern is that some of the Canadian online drugstores failed to require a prescription but accepted an “online consultation” to dispense pharmaceuticals, the Justice department said.