Google taps tech to battle opioid crisis

Google is throwing its weight behind the effort to tackle America’s opioid crisis.

For National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, the tech giant has worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to develop a Google Maps tool to help people get rid of medicines they no longer need. “The locator tool can help anyone find a place near them to safely dispose of leftover prescription medications,” explained Susan Mollinari, Google’s vice president of public policy, in a blog post this week.

The DEA has identified more than 5,000 locations across the U.S. where people can safely dispose of unused prescription drugs.

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“Longer term, we’re working with the DEA and state governments like Iowa, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Michigan to gather data on year-round take back options for future Google Maps integration,” added Mollinari.

Google is also adding a link to its search page for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day that will provide information on curbing the opioid epidemic. Additionally, the company’s Google.org charitable arm is providing $750,000 to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The grants will be used to expand the non-profit organization’s Parent Helpline and provide additional support to families.

Social media giants such as Facebook are being urged to clamp down on illegal opioid sales on their platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, was pressed about the removal of inappropriate opioid advertisements from the social network during his recent testimony to Washington lawmakers.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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