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Feb 21, 2019

Google will show opioid disposal sites in Maps searches

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Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOGL.O) will show drug-disposal locations on its Maps program, an effort to help people get rid of unused opioids and prevent drug abuse.

The internet-search giant has joined with U.S. government agencies and drug-store chains like CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. to pinpoint places where patients can drop off leftover medication. Google searches such as “drug drop off near me” will bring up locations from a database of 3,500 sites in seven states as part of the pilot program. That number will grow as the program expands, Google said Thursday in a blog post.

Opioid abuse now accounts for more deaths in the U.S. than car crashes or firearms, and much of the problem stems from legally prescribed drugs that are used by family members or friends of patients. By making it easier for people to safely get rid of unused prescription drugs, the company hopes to stop them from getting into the wrong hands.

The company used to make money from search ads catering to the lucrative addiction treatment market. It banned ads for rehab centers in 2017 after criticism it was helping unethical and even fake treatment providers find and exploit addicts.