Miss. attorney general calls on Google to remove rogue pharmacy ads
NEW YORK — Google has removed advertisements for websites that sell drugs without prescriptions, following a series of warning letters from a state attorney general, according to published reports.
Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood sent a letter to the internet giant last week asking the company to "substantially address" the ability of consumers to obtain illegal and counterfeit goods, including prescription drugs. Hood is co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General’s intellectual property committee. He said he had made his concerns about Google known, but had not received any substantive response to date.
"On every check we have made, Google’s search engine gave us easy access to illegal goods, including websites which offer dangerous drugs without a prescription, counterfeit goods of every description and infringing copies of movies, music, software and games," Hood said. "This behavior means that Google is putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from illegal behavior."
Hood noted that Google removes large amounts of content illegal in the United States and other countries – such as child pornography, Nazi propaganda from its German portal and content that insults religion from its Indian portal – but not content related to illegal purchase of prescription drugs.
In 2011, the company settled allegations of allowing illegal prescription drug sales with the Department of Justice and paid a $500 million fine, but Hood told USA Today that they had not proactively pursued the issue since then.
On Tuesday, the non-profit group Digital Citizen Alliance released results of an investigation of illegal online pharmacies, including a video in which a 15-year-old boy was able to order prescription drugs online even after admitting he was only 15 and using his father’s credit card.
"Sadly, it’s a video you have to see to believe," Digital Citizens Alliance executive director Tom Galvin said. "We were shocked at how easy it was to try to place an order. Our teen placed orders for prescription painkillers, and the operators never flinched. They didn’t care about his well-being — just his money."
And on Monday, the group called on Google to better police YouTube after it found videos containing instructions on activities such as obtaining drugs without prescriptions.
Walgreens reaches agreement with DEA
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday reached an agreement settling DEA concerns relating to the distribution and dispensing of controlled substances. The company released the following statement from Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness:
“Today we reached an agreement with the DEA and the Department of Justice that settles and resolves all administrative and civil matters arising out of DEA’s concerns relating to the distribution and dispensing of controlled substances. We have worked closely with DEA over the past several months to reach this agreement, which concludes the DEA’s review of our operations and provides direction going forward.
“As the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., we are fully committed to doing our part to prevent prescription drug abuse. We also will continue to advocate for solutions that involve all parties – including leaders in the community, physicians, pharmacies, distributors and regulators – to play a role in finding practical solutions that combat the abuse of controlled substances and ensure patient access to critical medications.
“As part of the agreement with DEA, and our continuing desire to work with DEA to combat prescription drug abuse, we have identified specific compliance measures – many of which Walgreens has already taken – to enhance our ordering processes and inventory systems, to provide our team members with the tools, training and support they need to ensure the appropriate dispensing of controlled substances and to improve collaboration across the industry.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Walgreens will pay $80 million, which the company reserved in previous quarters, including $25 million in its most recent quarter ended May 31. The company expects the total impact of the agreement and other associated costs to be 4 to 6 cents per share in its third fiscal quarter.
The agreement resolves all pending litigation and requires Walgreens to surrender its DEA registrations at only six of its more than 800 Florida pharmacies until May 2014 and at its Jupiter distribution center until September 2014. Walgreens has already taken steps to ensure that there is no disruption to the supply of medications to our pharmacies, the company stated.
SoloHealth kiosks capture 20 million interactions and counting
ATLANTA, Ga. — SoloHealth on Wednesday announced that its SoloHealth Station consumer health-and-wellness kiosk has surpassed the 20 million mark for consumer engagements. Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and North Carolina are leading all states in consumer engagement and usage, the company noted.
“We are thrilled to offer millions of Americans a healthcare access platform that delivers free health and wellness services, tools and information in convenient retail locations nationwide,” stated Bart Foster, CEO SoloHealth.
“We are now within driving distance of 79% of the U.S. population," he said. "As we grow, we are exploring many new ways we can leverage our versatile platform to continue to help better our nation’s health and healthcare system, especially as the country prepares for the Affordable Care Act rollout.”