In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google reached a settlement after Google allowed rogue foreign online pharmacies to place advertisements using its AdWords program that targeted American citizens, selling non-FDA approved medicines through unlicensed venues,  and resulting in the illegal importation of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the U.S. Google paid a $500 million penalty and agreed to only to promote legitimate U.S. licensed pharmacies registered with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

As reported by Healthcare Analytics News, a new study just came out looking into the long-term effects of this practice, and although the impact was seen across the spectrum of online pharmacies, non-reputable drug retailers were hit the hardest. There are three tiers of pharmacy websites. Tier-A is NABP-certified retailers, tier-B are retailers certified by other domestic or foreign agencies, and tier-C are uncertified websites. After the ban paid clicks for both tier-B and tier-C went down almost to zero. The tier-c websites saw their clicks from pharmacy-related Google searches decrease from 39.8% share before the ban to just 7.1% following the DOJ/Google settlement. However, organic clicks for tier-B retailers, which include foreign pharmacies that have no U.S. licenses and are therefore neither legal nor certifiably safe for American patients to purchase from, have increased. Patients need to be aware that only U.S. certified pharmacies are safe. No foreign agency can regulate medicine or protect Americans in the U.S.  Using the NABP-approved .pharmacy domain name simplifies the search for legitimate pharmacies.

Just earlier this month, LegitScript announced that Google now accepts its Healthcare Merchant Certification for advertisers of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare-related products in the US and Canada. This will allow consumers to see more trusted options when shopping online for their medical needs.