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Report: Microsoft Sponsoring Ads for Rogue Internet Pharmacies
Date:8/4/2009

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- LegitScript.com, an online pharmacy verification service, and KnujOn.com, an Internet compliance company, have released a report analyzing Microsoft's sponsored search results (online advertisements) for Internet pharmacies displayed on bing.com. 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 bing.com advertisement, it is generally accepted that online ads should not facilitate unlawful activity.

LegitScript is the only Internet pharmacy verification organization in the United States identified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as adhering to its standards for certifying Internet pharmacies as safe and legitimate. LegitScript President John Horton said, "We were able to purchase potentially addictive drugs without a prescription or any age verification via bing.com ads. We also received counterfeit medication. Microsoft profits from these illegal ads, which put Internet users at risk."

KnujOn tracks Internet criminality and has succeeded in removing over 100,000 spam websites from the Internet. "These bing.com ads aren't real pharmacies," said Garth Bruen, KnujOn's President. "These types of sites are usually the product of organized crime and vast illicit drug networks, many of them based in Russia and Eastern Europe, that deceive, defraud and poison Internet users."

The study also found disclosure gaps in bing.com'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."

The full report, and video clips and screen shots of each advertisement, are available at LegitScript.com and KnujOn.com.


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SOURCE LegitScript.com
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