60% of online search results for pharmaceutical drug leads to fakes putting consumers at risk of buying fake pharmaceutical products.
Google and other search engines are putting consumers at risk of buying fake pharmaceutical products by refusing to remove these websites in their search results according to a new study.
The study by online brand protection provider Incopro found that up to 60% of results returned by search engines for specific search terms offer consumers access to counterfeit and possibly dangerous fake drugs.
Six out of 10 of Google’s first-page results following searches for the antibiotic Bactrim were for locations very likely to be operating unlawfully.
Leveraging its artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to examine millions of webpages, Incopro found that in more than a quarter of cases (26%), counterfeit goods were featured in the top three search results, which studies have shown is where the majority of visitors go.
In pharmaceuticals, the traffic to infringing websites originating from product or brand search terms was 53.2%, indicating that consumers are being fooled when shopping for particular drugs.
Incopro monitored patterns of illegal activity and geo-located online listings to decipher the likelihood of them being counterfeit. While counterfeiters are continuing to get smarter, they still leave a range of traces that can be used to track down the root of the problem.
Simon Baggs, Chief Executive and Co-founder of Incopro, commented: “Unfortunately, while the ability to purchase prescription products online means consumers have easier access to sourcing important pharmaceuticals, the risks this brings with it are paramount to public safety awareness.
“Not only has uncontrolled purchasing of pharmaceuticals lead to epidemics like the opioid crisis in America, it also allows for unlawful operators to sell counterfeits products. These counterfeits pose a direct risk to consumers safety due to their unregulated production.
“Most concerningly, potentially infringing pharmaceutical sites are one of the most reliant on search results to drive traffic to their websites. The gravity of the risks that counterfeit medicinal and pharmaceutical products to consumer health and safety is significant. We are calling on search engines to do more in de-indexing and acting on counterfeit sellers that appear in their results and protect consumers from harm.”