Skip to main content

Google to settle pharmacy ad investigation for $500 mln

google logo
Image used with permission by copyright holder

At a news conference this morning in Rhode Island, U.S. attorney Peter F. Neronha announced that Google has agreed to pay $500 million for improperly enabling Canadian pharmacies to use Google advertising services to target U.S. consumers with discount drug offers. According to Neronha, the settlement is the largest of its kind in U.S. history—and the figure stems partly from Google parting with revenue it earned from Canadian pharmacies participating in Google’s AdWords program. Unlike many settlements, in this case Google is actually admitting to wrongdoing: the company acknowledges that it improperly assisted Canadian pharmacies in selling drugs to U.S. citizens.

Importing prescription drugs into the U.S. is generally illegal since federal regulators cannot monitor and ensure the safety of the medications. In this case, investigators determined selected Canadian pharmacies illegally imported drugs into the United States, and did so with “Google’s knowledge and assistance.”

“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said Neronha, in a statement.. “It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior.”

The investigation, spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island and the FDA/OCI Rhode Island Task Force found that Google knew Canadian pharmacies were advertising prescription drugs to Google users in the U.S. via AdWords as early as 2003. Moreover, while Google actively worked to prevent pharmacies in other countries (like Mexico) from targeting consumers in the United States, the company continued to allow Canadian pharmacies to advertise to U.S. consumers. Further, Google gave customer support to some Canadian pharmacies from 2003 through 2009, assisting them in placing and optimizing their advertisements and improving the page rankings of their Web sites.

In addition to admitting wrongdoing and paying $500 million, Google has also agreed to a series of compliance and reporting requirements to ensure similar things don’t happen in the future.

Editors' Recommendations

Geoff Duncan
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff Duncan writes, programs, edits, plays music, and delights in making software misbehave. He's probably the only member…
This new text-to-video AI looks incredible, and you can try it for free
A woman wearing a yellow dress seated in front of a similarly colored floral background.

Expectant AI enthusiasts flooded the Luma AI website on Wednesday, resulting in multi-hour waits to access the company's new free-to-use, high-definition AI video generator, Dream Machine, Venture Beat reports.

What's all the excitement for? Well, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup's model promises video generation of up to 120 frames per second for as long as 120 seconds. And based on some of the examples being shared online so far, it's pretty impressive.

Read more
Best laptop deals: Save on the Dell XPS 14, MacBook Pro 16 and more
The Dell XPS 14 on a white table with the screen open.

Having a laptop in this day and age can be pretty important, especially since so much has moved to digital, from our entertainment to our work. While it's true that desktop computers can often be cheaper or give you more powerful specs for the same price, they don't have the sort of mobility that comes with a laptop, especially for those who don't have a ton of space. Luckily, even the best laptops from the best laptop brands have excellent deals on them, and you can get some powerful laptops for very reasonable prices.
Since we've collected these deals from the best brands, you'll find HP laptop deals, Dell laptop deals, Acer laptop deals, Lenovo laptop deals, and more. They run the gamut from Chromebook deals and 2-in-1 laptop deals to powerful gaming laptop deals and everything in between.

HP Chromebook 14a -- $290, was $370

Read more
Windows may let you purge your PC of AI
Person sitting and using a Windows Surface computer with Windows 11.

Microsoft raised some serious privacy and security concerns with the upcoming launch of the controversial AI feature Recall as part of Copilot+ PCs. This led to Microsoft making changes to Recall, including making it opt-in rather than on by default. And now, according to an X (formerly Twitter) thread, Microsoft is giving you even more control over what apps can use AI.

The new feature will reportedly be found in Settings > Privacy & Security section > Let app use Generative AI. Users can toggle the feature on or off with a single click and select which specific apps are granted AI access. The idea is to give you more control over what apps and users can use generative AI.

Read more