Bing displaying illegitimate pharmacy adverts

Pharmacy verification services urge Microsoft to rectify problem

August 6, 2009

Pharmacy verification services urge Microsoft to rectify problem, an online pharmacy verification service, and, an Internet compliance company, have released a report analyzing Microsoft’s sponsored search result for Internet pharmacies displayed on

The report indicates that 89.7% of the Microsoft Internet pharmacy advertisements reviewed by the authors were fake or illegal Internet pharmacies.

Most of the Internet pharmacy advertisements analyzed in the report did not require a valid prescription. The authors were able to order a prescription-only muscle relaxant from a Microsoft-sponsored Internet pharmacy advertisement without any prescription.

Also, the authors ordered another prescription drug from a Microsoft-sponsored advertisement that tested positive as counterfeit.

Search engine advertising programs allow website owners to purchase visibility on the first few pages of search results, where online ads are listed as “sponsored sites.” Because Microsoft receives revenue when an Internet user clicks on a advertisement, it is generally accepted that online ads should not facilitate unlawful activity.

The study also found disclosure gaps in’s advertising program, showing how an advertisement that appears to have been placed by a legitimate pharmacy links instead to a “rogue” online pharmacy.

“We urge Microsoft to fix this problem,” Horton and Bruen stated. “By continuing to allow these advertisements, Microsoft is facilitating prescription drug abuse and the proliferation of counterfeit drugs, both of which put our most vulnerable citizens at risk.”

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