Google Settlement A Positive First Step In Ensuring Safety of U.S. Drug Supply

online pharmacy search available on google images

Ten of the fifteen largest online advertising companies have no policy prohibiting unlicensed pharmacy ads

The Partnership for Safe Medicines, a non-profit dedicated to curbing counterfeit drugs, today released the following statement regarding news Google will pay a $500 million fine for allowing illegal online pharmacies to advertise to U.S. consumers through its Adwords program:

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Department of Justice is a welcome and long overdue development in the ongoing effort to ensure safe medicines for U.S. consumers.

“We are hopeful the Google settlement sends a clear message to other large online advertising companies that this practice is dangerous and in most cases leads to unlawful activity.  For nearly a decade, we’ve been alarmed by the safety risk of online pharmacies preying on consumers to help boost sales of counterfeit medicine.  And despite efforts of both the public and private sectors, ten of the fifteen of the largest online advertisers continue to avoid creating policies against this type of advertising.  

(See the Partnership for Safe Medicine’s June 7th letters to ten of the top fifteen online advertisers asking them to adopt online pharmacy advertising policies like Google’s.  These companies include Facebook, shareThis, Specific Media, Turn Media, ValueClick, 24/7 Real Media, AdBrite, Vibrant Media, Collective, and Tribal Fusion.)

“Stated simply, it is illegal to facilitate the sale of controlled and non-controlled medicines over the Internet unless the product comes from a U.S.-licensed pharmacy. Illicit internet vendors, who often are no more Canadian than their logo or IP address, ship consumers drugs that are at best not FDA-approved and at worst lethal. For several years, they have escalated use of social media channels to advertise to American consumers.

“We are hopeful that this settlement will send a message to other online advertisers that policies need to be in place to prohibit this type of activity. We stand ready to work alongside large online advertisers in helping shape those policies and, above all, to protect consumers against criminals who seek to do great harm.”