Google has reached a $500 million settlement to close the books on charges from the federal government that the search giant hosted U.S. advertisements for Canadian pharmacies known to be fraudulent. Specifically, the Justice Department alleges that Google accepted money from and helped develop websites for pharmacy sites that it knew did not require a prescription for controlled substances such as Oxycontin and Ritalin.
Google had been aware of the federal investigation, led by the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island with help from both the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department, since 2009, and has since that time banned advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies. It also changed its AdWords policy to accept advertisements only from U.S. pharmacies certified by the National Association Boards of Pharmacy, and Canadian operations certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.
In conjunction with the settlement, Google last week released a statement that pointed out its new policies, but admitted that “it’s obvious with hindsight that we shouldn’t have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.”
Read more at The New York Times.