Google Sues Rogue Pill Peddlers - InformationWeek
Cloud // Cloud Storage
02:17 PM
Connect Directly
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Google Sues Rogue Pill Peddlers

Rogue advertisers are trying to get around Google's rules to sell prescription drugs online.

Top 15 Google Apps For Business
Top 15 Google Apps For Business
(click image for larger view and for full photo gallery)
Google on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit in a court in San Jose, Calif., against rogue advertisers who market prescription pharmaceuticals online in violation of the company's policies.

The company alleges that Omar Jackman, of Brooklyn, New York, an individual identified only as "Simon" in Manhattan, New York, and an indeterminate number of individuals to be identified later, used deliberate misspellings of pharmaceutical names to bypass Google's efforts to flag and review ads promoting online pharmacies and prescription drugs through its AdWords advertising program.

"In recent years, the number of advertisers who purport to sell prescription drugs online has risen exponentially," Google states in its complaint. Some of these advertisers flout Google's policies and while Google continues to make efforts to police its ad programs, "[t]hese rogue advertisers continue to find ways around the technological measures Google has put in place to stop them..."

Google detected the defendants' ads through one of its "sweeps," a process designed to review ads that have been approved by Google's automated tools. A Google spokesperson wasn't immediately available to provide further details about how this process works.

Google litigation counsel Michael Zwibelman said in a blog post that Google is particularly concerned about online pharmaceuticals because they can be dangerous without a prescription.

"Litigation of this kind should act as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking about circumventing our policies to advertise illegally on Google," wrote Zwibelman. "...Rogue pharmacies are bad for our users, for legitimate online pharmacies and for the entire e-commerce industry -- so we are going to keep investing time and money to stop these kinds of harmful practices."

Refusing to allow shady online pharmaceutical sales means foregoing quite a few ad dollars. A survey conducted by brand protection company MarkMonitor in 2009 found that online pharmacies have been doing well, with $11 billion in sales in 2009, up from an estimated $4 billion in 2007. Yet of the 2,930 online pharmacies identified by the company, only four were certified in the VIPPS program by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a requirement for pharmacy advertising on Google.

Pharmacies not certified by VIPPS often offer prescription drugs for as much as 90% less than certified pharmacies. "These deep discounts indicate that the products are of suspicious quality," MarkMonitor says.

Either that, or certified pharmaceuticals are overpriced, but that's another story.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll