Microsoft and Pfizer After Viagra Spammers

Pfizer and Microsoft have filed parallel lawsuits against two international pharmacy rings hawking generic versions
of the pharmaceutical giant’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

The companies said legal actions filed Thursday in New York and
Washington stem from a seven-month investigation during which they
identified and tracked down the two most prominent parties allegedly
responsible for selling an imitation version of the popular drug, as well as
the spammers advertising the drug.

In the two lawsuits Pfizer filed, the drug company accuses
CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct with promoting and selling Viagra
knock-offs that are unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For
its part in the parallel lawsuits, Microsoft has filed cases against the
spammers advertising for those companies.

In total, there are 17 lawsuits against the defendants allegedly involved
in the selling and advertising the knock-off drug.

“The collaboration between Pfizer and Microsoft is another wake-up call
to those who abuse the Internet for illegal purposes,” Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, said in a statement. “Leading businesses are
teaming up, pooling resources and sharing investigative information to stop
this illegal activity at the source. At Microsoft we
are combating this problem every way we can, including legal action, to
ensure our consumers are protected from fraud.”

Microsoft claims pharmacy spam rings have allegedly sent hundreds of
millions of e-mail messages to Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail customers within the
past year alone. They have also accused the defendants of using “illegal and
deceptive e-mail techniques” that violate the federal CAN-SPAM Act of

2003 and other state and federal laws.

According to some industry estimates, Viagra and similar drugs are
estimated to account for up to one out of four spam messages.

Both companies say their investigations turned up widespread scams, in
which orders are filled with illegal, unregulated products shipped from
India to the United States and delivered by an airfreight forwarding company
based in the United States.

“As the maker of Viagra, Pfizer is committed to protecting the public from health and other risks associated with the illegal sale of fake and unapproved generic products claiming to be Viagra,” Jeff Kindler, executive vice president and general counsel at Pfizer, said in a statement. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelm
people’s inboxes.”

Microsoft also filed three suits against spammers advertising other online
pharmacies known as Discount RX, Virtual RX and EzyDrugStore.com.

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