Google will have to pony up $500 million in charges related to ads shown from online pharmacies that “operate outside the law”, according to a report from NYTimes citing sources “briefed on the investigation”.
The charges relate to an investigation launched in May which accused Google of displaying ads from illegally operated online pharmacies who allegedly sell “counterfeit drugs” or fail to “require a prescription”. While site owners are liable for the ads they display on their websites, Google is obviously being held somewhat accountable.
This isn’t Google’s first run in with shady online pharmacies. The company took to their official blog last year voice their frustrations calling the process of regulating online pharmacies an “ongoing, escalating cat-and-mouse game”.
The post explained:
…as we and others build new safeguards and guidelines, rogue online pharmacies always try new tactics to get around those protections and illegally sell drugs on the web. In recent years, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of rogue pharmacies, as well an increasing sophistication in their methods. This has meant that despite our best efforts—from extensive verification procedures, to automated keyword blocking, to changing our ads policies—a small percentage of pharma ads from these rogue companies is still appearing on Google.
The official announcement regarding the settlement is slated for a press conference in Rhode Island held by the United States Attorney’s office today. We’ll update you with Google’s response if they issue one.