Google still isn’t doing enough to prevent illegal online sales of drugs without prescriptions, according to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. He announced Tuesday he is sending out subpoenas for company documents, the Associated Press reports.
Hood urged attorneys general from other states to send their own subpoenas. Earlier this month, Hood, Co-Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG)’s Intellectual Property Committee, said that at the top of Google’s keyword search results, websites are displayed that are known to sell counterfeit goods. NAAG says some of these sites advertise with Google, and post videos on the company’s YouTube service.
In 2011, Google agreed to pay $500 million to avoid being prosecuted for aiding illegal online pharmaceutical sales. In the settlement, the company acknowledged it had improperly and knowingly assisted online pharmacy advertisers, allegedly based in Canada, to run ads for illegal pharmacy sales that targeted American customers.
‘‘We in good faith invited Larry Page, chief executive officer of Google, to have an open, honest and transparent conversation about these important issues that are putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from this dangerous behavior,’’ Hood said in a statement. ‘‘Google’s lack of response leaves us no choice except to issue subpoenas to Google for possible violations of state consumer protection acts and other state and federal civil and criminal laws.’’
The subpoenas could lead to a criminal or civil prosecution of Google, the article notes.
Google responded the company is making it more difficult for illegal pharmacies to operate. ‘‘Working together, companies in the private sector, non-profit organizations and law enforcement have made it increasingly difficult for rogue pharmacies to effectively market their illegal products online, and operators of these sites are being forced to turn to much less effective marketing techniques from the outskirts of the Internet,” Google Legal Director Adam Barea wrote in comments posted online.