The opioid crisis in the U.S. is an ongoing public health emergency, with Google noting that searches for “medication disposal near me” reached an “all-time high” in January. In light of that, it’s now easier to find those locations in Google Maps and Search.
In both Google Search and Maps, queries like “drug drop off near me” or “medication disposal near me” will show permanent disposal locations. Pharmacies, hospitals, and government buildings near you will appear in the standard list and map of results.
53 percent of prescription drug abuse starts with drugs obtained from family or friends, so we’re working alongside government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help people safely remove excess or unused opioids from their medicine cabinets.
This idea to merge data sources originated from an Opioid Code-A-Thon hosted last year by the Department of Health and Human Services. Google is combining disposal location data from states like Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, with the Drug Enforcement Administration also planning to provide additional locales. Meanwhile, companies like Walgreens and CVS Health also participated in this pilot.
Google partnered with the DEA last year to create a locator tool powered by the Google Maps API. During National Prescription Take Back Day, the site helped people dispose of their prescription drugs at temporary locations.
With the help of this tool, the DEA and its local partners collected a record 1.85 million pounds of unused prescription drugs in 2018.
In the coming month, Google plans to expand coverage and add more locations. The company has a contact address (RXdisposalfirstname.lastname@example.org) where local governments and businesses can learn more about contributing. Meanwhile, Verily also announced that it is developing a high-tech campus to help opioid recovery and advance addictive medicine.