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Drugstore.com Battles Portals W/ Imported-drug Ads
Posted 31 October 2003 - 10:11 AM
THE BATTLE OVER imported medicines has a new target: Google, MSN and other major U.S. Web portals that carry ads for sites that peddle drugs from outside the U.S.
Google is considered a web portal :-)
Regulators who oversee drugs and pharmacies are also looking into the portal companies' role, though they have limited authority to clamp down on such advertising. The Food and Drug Administration "will be reaching out to the search engines," says Peter J. Pitts, the FDA's associate commissioner for external relations. The agency, he says, would like to talk with the portals about "how we can work together to stem the tide of these dangerous Internet drug dealers."
Executives at the Internet search engines differed in their responses to Drugstore's efforts. Larry Page, a co-founder and president of products at Google, called the campaign "highly commercially motivated" because the company is effectively trying to remove ads for low-cost competitors. While Google wants to obey U.S. drug laws, Mr. Page said it may be difficult for the company to determine whether an online pharmacy is based abroad and, even if it can, a Google user conducting a search using drug terms might be based outside the U.S.
"It might be easier for us to say we're not going to accept any pharmacy-related advertising, but that would mean consumers couldn't easily buy things and save money," said Mr. Page. "As a matter of principle, we want to have free choice for consumers . . . even if we get some hassles for it."
AOL sees things differently. Andrew Weinstein, a spokesman for AOL, whose search engine and sponsored listings are operated in conjunction with Google, said AOL is "right in line with Drugstore" with regard to drug advertisements from questionable online pharmacies. He said AOL has asked Google not to deliver any sponsored links to AOL's search engine from pharmacies that aren't certified by state regulators, though he concedes that some such links are currently on the site. "We've found some and we're asking Google to take them down right now," said Mr. Weinstein.
Google's Mr. Page couldn't confirm that the company had received AOL's request.
In a statement, Yahoo's Overture division, which runs the company's sponsored links program, said it's currently evaluating a service from another company that will help it "identify legitimate online pharmacy advertisers that are appropriate for Overture's marketplace." While Yahoo has been talking to Drugstore.com about the matter, a company spokeswoman said the search for a method to remove questionable pharmacy advertisers began prior to those discussions.
Lisa Gurry, a group product manager at Microsoft's MSN site, said the company is working with Overture, which supplies sponsored Web sites to MSN, and "others in the industry to ensure any concerns regarding online pharmacies are addressed."
Posted 31 October 2003 - 12:24 PM
It sounds like an anti-trust issue to me.
Posted 01 November 2003 - 12:26 PM
Fact: There are some scammers in some foreign countries selling cheap and possibly dangerous drugs
Fact: Canada is a foriegn country
Conclusion: Canada sells dangerous drugs
Fact: Some animals are cats
Fact: A dog is an animal
Conclusion: Dogs are cats...
I think Google got it - it's a purely commercial arguement. Let me point out that drug companies are doing very well financially in Canada and meeting or exceeding US standards, like most US and first world companies. And they are doing it at their current pricing.
IMHO, it's an attempt at price protection. for an industry that's making a ton of money - this isn't a case of impoverished farmers being put out of business.
Edited by mcanerin, 01 November 2003 - 12:36 PM.
Posted 01 November 2003 - 12:44 PM
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