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Petmed Drug Removed From Google Ads After Accusations Of Fueling Opioid Crisis

Petmed Drug Removed From Google Ads After Accusations Of Fueling Opioid Crisis

Following allegations that Petmed Express Inc (NASDAQ: PETS) was conspiring to capitalize on the opioid epidemic, ads for the company’s Tramadol, a synthetic opiate used by both pets and cancer patients, were removed from Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s Google searches Thursday.

The ads had previously appeared among search results for drug-abuse keywords, including “opiate pills to get you high.”

Petmed CFO Bruce Rosenbloom confirmed that the company had reached out to its Google representatives in reaction to Aurelius Value’s research report and a 16-percent stock drop, but he didn't disclose details of the conversation.

Still, Rosenbloom told Benzinga he was “sure some things were done” with the Tramadol ads beyond Petmed’s control, as the company had never paid for term searches referenced in the condemning report and “weren’t targeting those [consumers] at all.” Google algorithms were to blame for inappropriate ad placement, he said.

An Aurelius Value spokesperson rejected the defense and said that, at a minimum, Petmed was "turning a blind eye" to Google ad data. "[You] can't claim to be a good online marketer and not know what was going on" with Tramadol ads, the spokesperson said.

As yet, it's unclear whether Google pulled the ads or Petmed elected to remove them.

"We do not comment on individual advertisers," a Google spokesperson told Benzinga in an email. "We have stringent advertising guidelines and when we find violations, we work quickly to remove them."

Petmed has reiterated part of its response strategy: legal action against Aurelius Value on the grounds that the “false and defamatory” research report harmed the firm’s investor base. Rosenbloom accused Aurelius of stock manipulation in favor of short sellers.

At time of publication, Petmed was trading at $38.07, up 5 percent on the day.

Related Link:

Every Generation Has Its Drug: How People Are Dealing With Opioids, The New (Old) Thing


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