The US Government is suing Google for $500 million for displaying illegal pharmaceutical ads. This sum represents the revenue Google accrued as a direct result of these advertisements and it makes up 22% of revenue from all advertisements. How could a company under constant public scrutiny make such a big faux pas? By offering tools such as AdWords that are available to anyone with a computer and internet access. The idea is that AdWords places your advertisement in a high-visibility spot based on a user’s search keywords – you are only charged if someone clicks through to your site.
Over the years Google has increasingly put screening measures in place to stop any unsavory or illegal ads, but the company admits that some still slip through the cracks. Despite Google’s efforts, the government is suing for the illegal importation of prescription drugs into the US. The FDA has focused its attention on rogue Canadian pharmacies because they can ship drugs to the US without going through Canadian or American regulations, posing many health risks. In one of the largest forfeitures ever made, Google must give up all revenue from these ads, and the FDA hopes it will serve as an example to Google as well as others involved in this illegal trade.