Google could be hit for $500 million over dodgy drug deals

Google is allegedly setting aside $500 million to pay to the US government after being involved in some dodgy drug deals.

The firm has not turned to a bit of petty street peddling to supplement its income, but it will be preparing for the worst after a federal investigation into advertising online pharmacies that break US laws.

The massive payment would be one of the largest made by a company to the government if it does have to hand over the sum, and it is said that Google is close to settling with the Justice Department according to the Wall Street Journal’s sources.

The investigation has been looking into how much knowledge Google, which could have paid more attention to Zammo in the Grange Hill cast’s prescient 1986 hit “Just Say No”, had of the illegal activities from companies based across the US and Canada.

As the ads were through its paid advertising service and not just popping up through its search engine, it could mean that Google employees could be in hot water if it is found that they turned a blind eye in order to reap in advertising revenues.

Google, which generated around $30 billion in advertising last year, has been under pressure to cease displaying drug related ads from rogue pharmacies, with the FDA demanding that it only publish ads from licensed vendors.

As of February last year, Google said that it would only be allowing ads that were accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Ads in Canada should be accredited by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

Google later stated “rogue pharmacies are bad for our users, for legitimate online pharmacies and for the entire e-commerce industry”.

It does seem that Google, which is facing the wrath of regulatory bodies across the world over, is attempting to toe the line somewhat. Searches for “no prescription required” lead directly to a Justice Department alert reading “Prescription Drugs. Buying online could mean doing time.”