LOS ANGELES — Google will pay the largest amount ever forfeited in U.S. history —$500 million — to settle charges that it sold illicit online-pharmacy ads through its Adwords program.
The announcement, made Wednesday by the Justice Department, was the result of agreement after Google acknowledged that it improperly assisted Canadian online pharmacies.
The online pharmacies broke the law by selling prescription drugs to Americans without complying with U.S. safety standards, the Justice Department said.
The pharmacies used Google's Adwords programs to target customers in the U.S., and the Internet search giant allowed the ads to appear on its website from 2003 to 2009, it said.
"The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers," deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a statement. "This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history."