Google has announced (in a blog post found here) that it will no longer accept advertsiing from any online pharmacy which issues a prescription online. They have commented that they will only accept advertising from websites with VIPPS certification (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites). VIPPS has been created by the National Association of Pharmacy Boards (NABP), a trade association whos membership is composed of members of state pharmacy boards, all of whom operate brick-and-mortor pharmacies. VIPPS requires that a physician meet with a patient face-to-face to issue a prescription. This new Google policy applies only to AdWords, or Pay-per-Click advertisements (the listings that advertisers pay for) and not to the ‘natural’ listings found as a result of a search.
Although this broad sweeping measure may help curb the illegal sale of drugs on thousands of sites, unfortunately, the broad brush hurts legitimate online pharmacies which offer extraordinary health care via the internet and which help the consumer save time and money and allow consumers to take control of their health. Although we welcome the effort to stop illegal activity, Google’s actions ultimately hurt the legitimate firms more than the “rogue” websites selling drugs online. For proof, simply search for “drugs online” and notice all the offshore websites which rank high in search results. Those offshore firms will now get the volume of business which previously had gone to legitimate sites that spent money advertising on the internet.
The best intentions often lead to the worst results.