Google Still Allowing Ads for Illegal Online Pharmacies

Google Still Allowing Ads for Illegal Online Pharmacies

June 10th, 2013

Is there anything you can’t find on Google? Cross prescription pills off that list, as the Internet behemoth is in hot water for allowing illicit online pharmacies to advertise in search results.

In 2011, Google forfeited $500 million to the Department of Justice for hosting illegal ads for Canadian pharmacies selling medication in the US. It was revealed that top-ranking officials at the company, including CEO Larry Page, were aware that these Canadian pharmacies were circumventing the law but did not move swiftly enough to stop them.

In a recent article published by USA Today, the National Association of Attorneys General alleges that Google has not cleaned up its act. According to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the Google search engine yields plentiful results for websites selling prescription drugs illegally. Moreover, such sites use YouTube, which is owned by Google, to post “how-to” videos for purchasing counterfeit goods.

Google has taken the allegations very seriously. “In the last two years, we’ve removed more than 3 million ads for illegal pharmacies, and we routinely remove videos that are flagged for violating YouTube’s Guidelines regarding dangerous or illegal content,” the company said in a statement released last Thursday.

Mr. Hood and his colleagues do not seem to be buying Google’s excuses. As he sees it, the corporation is not only putting its users at risk but also profiting handsomely from doing so. People who post videos to YouTube must allow Google to include advertisements on the video display pages. The revenues from the ads are eventually split between Google and the users.

With Google, users have been able to order prescriptions illegally via advertisements from underground pharmacies.


A report by the Digital Citizens Alliance claims that the aforementioned “how-to” videos “link to websites selling drugs such as Tramadol or Percocet and act as ‘commercials’ for drug-distribution websites.’”

This news comes at a time when prescription drug abuse is at an all-time high. Criminals will continue to exploit the Internet’s potential as a limitless black market. With deeper pockets and more influence than just about any corporation in the world, Google ought to take a stand and put public health over profit.

David Noble, Editor


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