Google to Pay $500M Fine for Pharmacy Ads

Ads promoted illegal drug sales, prosecutors argued
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2011 12:44 PM CDT
Peter Neronha, U.S. attorney for the district of Rhode Island, announces a $500 million settlement with Internet giant Google over Canadian drug advertisements, Aug. 24, 2011, in Providence.   (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)

(Newser) – Google has agreed to pay $500 million to settle a US government investigation into its distribution of online ads from Canadian pharmacies illegally selling prescription and non-prescription drugs to American consumers, a US attorney announced today. The settlement means the Internet search engine giant will not face criminal prosecution.

The $500 million represents the gross revenues Google collected in ad buys from the Canadian pharmacies, plus the earnings generated from the illegal sales of drugs to American consumers, federal investigators said. Federal officials say Google knew as early as 2003 that its ad system was allowing Canadian pharmacies to make illegal sales, including sales to people without valid prescriptions.

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