Google Faces Fines for Pill Mill Ads | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Google Faces Fines for Pill Mill Ads

The internet giant may pony up some serious dough for promoting prescription-pill abuse.


Pick a pharmacy. They’re all bogus.
Photo via abclocal

By Dirk Hanson


| Share

Recently, we reported on a study published in the respected scientific journal, Health Affairs, which found that Americans who have the most access to the Internet are much more likely to be addicted to prescription pills than their less-wired peers. The problem is compounded by the bewildering variety of drug sites offering a vast menu of prescription painkillers—often counterfeit or expired medications—without benefit of a valid doctor’s prescription. Now the government is charging that that the biggest online pill pusher of all may be Google. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Google and the U.S. government were close to settling a criminal investigation into the search engine’s practice of taking paid ads from online pharmacies that violate U.S. law. In what the Wall Street Journal called a “cryptic regulatory filing,” Google has set aside a whopping $500 million as a reserve against a possible settlement with the Justice Department. Trying to pry details of the alleged settlement out of Google is like asking them for their page rank algorithm; in other words, a Google spokesperson declined comment.

Previous court cases have established that search engines are criminally liable if they profit from illegal activities. And Google has been here before, along with Microsoft and Yahoo, when the three companies agreed to pay out $31 million in fines for accepting ads from illegal online gambling sites in 2007. The drug ads dilemma has been long and odd, as Google has struggled to formulate and reformulate policies that skirt the edge of grey-market drug profiteering. In 2003, the Journal reports, the company banned advertising for U.S. companies offering Vicodin and Viagra without prescriptions. But the Justice Department has been attempting a furious crackdown on illegal online pharmacies in the wake of media reports linking Internet access to illegal drug use. The unspoken part of the proceedings--the thing that has investors truly nervous-- was well summarized in the New York Times on Friday by Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University: "For investors, I think they just got a little bit of a jolt that maybe Google's profits are due to things they can't ultimately stand behind."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv