Google improving Maps and Search to fight the opioid crisis

Americans pay on average $1,200 on prescription drugs per year, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, more than citizens in any other country.

On Thursday Google announced that it is making it easier to locate drug disposal locations year-round with enhanced opioid-related query results.

Since 2017, the opioid crisis has been officially a public health emergency with Google queries for "medication disposal near me" reaching an all-time high on the platform just last month. In response, the company has improved Maps and Search results of queries like "drug drop off near me" or "medication disposal near me" to display permanent disposal locations, typically pharmacies (like Walgreens or CVS Health), hospitals, or government buildings, where you can discard unused and unneeded medications.

Google has been supporting the fight against the crisis for a year now since they partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to develop a Google Maps API locator tool designed to help people dispose their unused medications twice a year at temporary locations. As of this week, however, permanent locations are now displayed all year with an emphasis in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The company stated that it plans to spend the next couple of months expanding coverage and therefore adding more locations across the US.