By Marcus Leach

Google have been handed a $500 million (£306 million) fine for the publishing of online adverts of Canadian pharmacies offering illegal drugs to US customers.

The internet giants agreed to pay the fine, and in doing so will avoid any criminal prosecution in the US for profiting from the incriminating adverts.

The scale of the fine was in keeping with revenues made by Google from the adverts, as well as those generated from the sales of the advertised drugs.

Google admitted it should it not have allowed the adverts to have been published.

"We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the US by Canadian pharmacies some time ago," the company said in a short statement.

"However, it's obvious with hindsight that we should not have allowed these ads on Google in the first place."

According to the US Justice Department controls over selling the drugs were inadequate.

"While Canada has its own regulatory rules for prescription drugs, Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to US residents are not subject to Canadian regulatory authority, and many sell drugs obtained from countries other than Canada which lack adequate pharmacy regulations," the department said.

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