Google Settles Shareholder Suit, Will Set Aside $250M To Disrupt Rogue Online Drug Ads

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Google will create a $250 million internal program to battle rogue online pharmacies as part of a deal to end a shareholder lawsuit, Reuters reported today.

The litigation was sparked by Google’s $500 million settlement in 2011 with the U.S. Justice Department, which alleged that the search company accepted advertisements from foreign pharmacies that illegally sold prescription drugs in the United States. Five days after the 2011 settlement, three Google shareholders filed separate lawsuits against the company that were later merged into the one that has been settled.

Reuters reported that documents filed in an Oakland federal court on Thursday showed that Google has agreed to:

Make content about prescription drug abuse more visible and work with legitimate pharmacies to counter marketing by rogue sellers.

Google will allocate and spend at least $50 million a year to the internal effort for at least five years under the settlement. The company has also agreed to pay $9.9 million in fees and expenses to plaintiff attorneys.

Google declined comment to Reuters.

Postscript: After the publication of this story, a Google spokesman emailed Search Engine Land to say that the settlement will enhance efforts the company was already taking to fight rogue pharmacies, pointing to a blog post from June 2013 detailing some of the steps it was taking. “We’ve been investing very significantly to fight rogue online pharmacies, and have stopped millions of ads from appearing,” he said. “This settlement will continue and expand these ongoing efforts to keep users safe online.”

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