Rogue pharmacies are using Microsoft's Bing search engine to illegally sell drugs, including addictive substances without prescriptions, according to a report released Wednesday.
Nine out of 10 of the pharmacies are operating illegally, according to the report
--Selling prescription drugs, including controlled substances, without prescriptions.
--Not being licensed as a pharmacy in any U.S. jurisdiction, despite Microsoft's policy of only sponsoring Internet pharmacies that supply drugs from the United States or Canada.
--Providing unregulated, unapproved prescription drugs.
The investigators also found that in some cases the ads displayed for legitimate pharmacies, but actually directed users to illegal sites. Some of the rogue pharmacies were identified as members of affiliate pharmacy networks linked to Russian organized crime.
The authors said that this is just the first in a series about U.S.-based corporations "that facilitate, and/or profit from rogue Internet pharmacies."
"We're not "picking on" Microsoft," said Garth Bruen, Knujon owner, in a posting on the MIT Spam Conference LinkedIn page. Microsoft has been made aware of some of these specific cases previously and has been sent a copy of this report."
Commonly promoted drugs include controlled drugs that are often abused, such as Soma (carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant), Ultram (tramadol, a pain reliever) and Ambien (a sleep aid), erectile dysfunction drugs--Viagra, Cialis, Levitra,and Valtrex, used to treat herpes.
The report said that Microsoft has received letter from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse and the American Pharmacists Association expressing concern over the rogue pharmacies.
Microsoft issued a statement that it is taking the claims "very seriously" and will investigate.