Google sues counterfeit drug advertisers

Google is bringing a number of its advertisers to court over violating its policies on the advertisement of illegal and fake pharmaceutical products.

Fake drug products amount for a signicant portion of all spam on the internet, with Symantec putting the figure at around 21 percent of total spam. Google has become an involuntary means by which many of these spammers target potential “customers”, but this latest announcement shows that it is willing to bring in the legal artillery against them.

Google said it has been fighting against rogue pharmaceutical suppliers for years, but labelled it a “cat-and-mouse game”, as the spammers consistently find ways to circumvent policies and safety checks to prevent the advertisement and sale of counterfeit drugs, many of which are extremely hazardous to people’s health.

“This morning we filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against advertisers we believe have deliberately broken our rules,” said Michael Zwibelman, Litigation Counsel for Google. “Litigation of this kind should act as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking about circumventing our policies to advertise illegally on Google.”

This is not the first time that Google has brought advertisers to court over scams and spam. In December 2009 it brought a number of companies to court over fake work at home schemes, some of which utilised Google’s name as part of their scams. The Federal Trade Commission has also launched a number of legal battles with spammers over the years, helping to curb the tide, but never eliminating it completely.

Zwibelman said that the threat these spammers pose to us all is significant and Google will continue to weild the legal hammer against them if necessary: “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.”