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NEW YORK — Google has settled with the federal government for $500 million over allegations that it displayed advertisements for black-market pharmacies, according to published reports.
The New York Times reported that Google would pay to settle an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that it had displayed ads from online pharmacies that sell drugs without prescriptions and sometimes sell counterfeit drugs.
Google had said it was difficult to prevent the ads from appearing, as the pharmacies would find ways around preventive measures that it implemented, but websites are nevertheless responsible for advertisements that appear on them, the Times reported.
The news garnered praise from the drug retailing industry. In a statement released Wednesday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores said that it was pleased that Google was taking steps to rectify the matter.
"NACDS is pleased that Google Inc. is taking steps to rectify the advertising activities of these illegal online drug sellers, and thanks the Department of Justice for its tenacity on this issue," NACDS said. "Illegitimate Internet drug sellers pose incredible risks to patients. These rogue websites operate in clear violation of U.S. state and federal laws and regulations. They sell drugs to consumers without the safety of precautions of a legitimate prescriber-patient relationship, a valid prescription, and a licensed U.S. pharmacy."