The move is an effort to bring to an end shareholder litigation concerning Google permitting advertising from illegal online pharmacies. Litigation was started in 2011 after Google settled with the U.S. government concerning use of Google Ad Words by fake online pharmacies.
Reuters is reporting that Google has made a settlement with its shareholders to settle a lawsuit brought by them over Google’s advertising support of fake online pharmacies. According to the settlement, Google will spend up to $250 million on internal programs to eliminate Google Ad Words for fake online pharmacies. The agreement requires that Google spend at least $50 million per year over the next 5 years to rectify the proliferation of fake online pharmacy advertising appearing as targeted ad display results during Google searches.
According to Reuters, Google has also agreed to pay $9.9 million in plaintiffs’ legal fees.
This settlement mirrors similar efforts by the Federal government to remove fake online pharmacies from their targeted search results. In 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that Google had settled with the Federal Government, paying a $500 million fine and agreeing to stop accepting Google Ad Words advertising revenue from Canadian online pharmacies that were selling non-FDA approved medication.
The shareholder settlement does not address the concerns that U.S. Attorneys General have brought up with Google. In April 2014, the Washington Post reported that 24 top state prosecutors signed a letter insisting that Google must make it more difficult for fake online pharmacies to appear Google search results.
In July, Jim Hood, Mississippi Attorney General and head of the National Association of Attorneys General was interviewed by Bloomberg and explained his demand of information from Google about their screening and placement process for fake online pharmacy ads.
Attorney General Hood laid out his frustration at the difference between what Google says in response to their concerns and what actually appears in Google search results, saying; “What they tell you in a meeting sounds good but then you can go online and check it out and it’s not true.”