Do Google and Bing Censor Online Pharmacy Search Results?


Hi. My name is Gabriel Levitt, and I’m
the president and co-founder of PharmacyChecker. We are an independent online
pharmacy verification and drug price comparison company that helps people
looking on the Internet to afford medicines safely. I am really proud that
the information on our website has helped millions of people to afford
prescription drugs. High drug prices have been responsible for tens of millions of
Americans going without the prescription medication they need each year. The fact
is that for millions of people over the past few decades, safe international
online pharmacies have been a lifeline of affordable medication. Until we lower
drug prices here at home in the United States, online and international access
to more affordable prescription drugs is critical. But what if we lived in a
country where people were no longer able to find safe international pharmacies on
the Internet? What if popular search engines like
Google and Bing were censoring access to safe international online pharmacies or
even censoring information related to those safe options on the Internet?
It’s certainly notable that large pharmaceutical companies have actually
called for this very type of censorship. Let me give you some examples: At a
hearing before the U.S. Congress in 2014, a representative of Eli Lilly, the
multinational pharmaceutical company, actually recommended removing all
Canadian pharmacies, in fact any non-U.S. pharmacies, from
Google’s search engines in the U.S. And one of those tools I’d like to mention
is ‘delisting’, that is a tool that could be used to
exclude these bad illegal rogue online pharmacies from natural search results
found using search engines In other words, if a website selling
medicines did not sell only FDA-approved drugs or did not provide those services
using a state licensed pharmacist, you would not find that website in the
search results after it was delisted. The online pharmacy would still be on the
internet probably hosted in a foreign country but it would not be found by the
patient in the U.S. doing an internet search. Now, PharmacyChecker doesn’t sell medicines or process prescription orders in any way, domestic or international, but
we do provide extremely useful information on how to find safe
international pharmacies and compare their prices. That makes us a target of
the pharmaceutical industry. Let me give you an example: In 2017, the lobbying
group best known for representing the interests of the multinational drug
companies, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (or Big
Pharma) was placing ads on Google using our company name PharmacyChecker. When searching for PharmacyChecker, the first organic result shows, of course, PharmacyChecker, and it says, “Save up to 90% by comparing online prescription drug
prices at PharmacyChecker. We check safety credentials.” But above us, a Google
user would see PhRMA’s ad: “Protect patients and the public. Oppose drug
importation.” In fact, drug companies are spending lots of money
pushing ads and programs that essentially scare people away from safe
and more affordable imported medicine. Those campaigns include putting pressure
on Google and Bing. Look what happens when I search for safe online pharmacies
on Bing. When I hover over this particular pharmacy, there’s a pop-up
warning. Now, my company verifies and monitors this particular online pharmacy.
It’s a licensed pharmacy that sells lawfully manufactured medication in
Canada. Further down the search results, people find rogue sites
that don’t require a prescription and don’t display the pop-up warning. The
result? When people search Bing looking to buy medicine online, they are warned
against buying from sites that are proven to sell real lawfully
manufactured medicines and end up buying counterfeit drugs from a rogue site that
lacks Bing’s warning. Now, Google has not actually delisted safe international
online pharmacies, which is what the drug companies would like it to do. If it did,
it would be entirely caving in to Big Pharma and also another sign that you
cannot trust Google search results. What Google has changed is how its search
engine handles queries for information related to buying medicines online. Now
it’s much harder for people to find information about purchasing medication
that’s affordable from online pharmacies when using Google. Watch in this clip as
Google admits that it targets search queries when according to a Google
spokesperson users are confused. “And it’s not so much that we would target the
medical industry and say like we need to improve that the way that these
particular 10 sites are shown in the search results, but more that we see
users are confused with this type of query. It’s something that’s confusing a
lot of people.” Now, when you type a search phrase like “find a canadian pharmacy”
your top organic non-paid result is a program of the National Association of
Boards of Pharmacy, one that is funded by at least five drug companies: Eli Lilly,
Merck, Pfizer, Janssen, and Gilead. The top results for the most part include
organizations and initiatives funded by drug companies or aligned with them. All
of those results tell consumers not to buy lower-cost medicines from another
country because it’s not safe. That’s just false.
Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information and make it
universally accessible and useful. I don’t think they’re succeeding as well
as they could at that mission when it comes to Americans looking on their
search engine to find affordable medication. I don’t know for sure whether
Google intentionally fudged its search results in its last algorithm update but
we do know that for searches about buying medicine more affordable medicine
from other countries, Big Pharma is celebrating. Please subscribe to the
PharmacyChecker channel if you want to stay up to date on news and developments
related to online access to safe and affordable medication. Also, it would be
great if you want to make comments below on this issue. If you have questions I’ll
be happy to get back to you click the link in the description below to sign up
for news and reports from PharmacyChecker

2 comments on “Do Google and Bing Censor Online Pharmacy Search Results?”

  1. PharmacyChecker.com says:

    We're interested to hear what you guys think about censorship of online pharmacy options. Please let us know here in the comments!

  2. ken seymour says:

    Goggles is controlling the minds of people medication is not a luxury in most cases it the difference between life and death why even invent these drugs if they are going too put them out of the reach of people

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