Regulators and lawmakers having been calling for more direct intervention from Silicon Valley to address the drug crisis, so Google will be using its homepage and maps to promote the Take Back Day project of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) starting Wednesday to help fight the opioid epidemic.
The DEA’s initiative National Prescription Drug Take Back Day can be found underneath the Google search bar in the hopes of encouraging people to anonymously take unused medications to a collection site where they can be safely discarded. For people to find nearby drug-collection sites, Google Maps also has a tool that shows over 5,000 locations where people can bring their unwanted or expired medication. According to The Washington Post, this semiannual event will take place every Saturday.
Google’s vice president of public policy Susan Molinari revealed that users’ search for terms related to prescription drug disposal is at 10,000 per week, on average. She said,
We’re deeply concerned by the opioid crisis that has impacted families in every corner of the United States…many people aren’t aware of, or can’t easily find, prescription drug disposal programs in their communities.
As leading technology companies are being more closely scrutinized for the roles they play in the spread of information and exchange of illicit products, Google’s involvement in the DEA’s project has become more apparent.
During his recent high-profile testimony on Capitol Hill, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was also urged by lawmakers to have a more effective and efficient blocking and filtering system in place for the sale of prescription drugs in the social network that he develops.
The DEA has reported that its most recent Take Back Day is a record for most weight of drugs destroyed. However, it’s still difficult to change the program’s effectiveness at dulling the opioid crisis. Google has disclosed that they have been lobbying Congress and the White House on the opioid crisis for the past six months, spending more than any other corporation — a total of approximately $9.4 million.