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Sixty percent of search engine results for medicines yield counterfeit drugs

Research has found that up to 60 percent of results for medicines on search engines present potentially counterfeit pharmaceutical products.

A new study has revealed that up to 60 percent of search engine results lead customers to fake or dangerous goods, including pharmaceutical products.

The company who conducted the research, Incopro, found that six in 10 Google searches for the antibiotic Bactrim (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole) yielded sites likely to be operating unlawfully.

Reportedly, Google does not “at this time de-index URLs or websites from its Web Search index on trademark grounds upon request”.

Pharmaceutical companies who hold trademark rights have to go through legal channels to protect their property, meaning that websites may continue to sell counterfeit medicines online with listings on search engines.  

“Consumers are at risk of buying counterfeit and possibly harmful products, as a result of clicking through results generated by search engines they trust,” said Simon Baggs, co-founder and CEO at Incopro. “At best, these products will be poor quality or below-standard; at worst, they put consumers at risk of harm, particularly when buying pharmaceuticals or safety goods.

“It is high time search engines played their part in putting a stop to the fakers, rather than encouraging them to proliferate through inaction.”

The company is calling on Google and other search engines to work more closely with intellectual property owners to remove infringing websites.

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