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February 21, 2019

Google adds drug disposal searches to Google Maps, focuses on Pennsylvania

Google announced Thursday it’s adding a search feature to Google Maps geared towards helping fight the United States’ opioid epidemic.

The search giant said in a blog post it has added new capabilities to Maps allowing users to search for drug and medication drop-off sites in their neighborhood and city.

"Fifty-three percent of prescription drug abuse starts with drugs obtained from family or friends," Google Maps V.P. of Product Dane Glasgow said in a blog post Thursday, "so we’re working alongside government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help people safely remove excess or unused opioids from their medicine cabinets."

Glasgow said Google searches for “medication disposal near me” reached an all-time high in January.

To use the function, Maps users can enter search terms like “drug drop off near me” or “medication disposal near me” and receive results for permanent disposal locations.

The pilot is focused on the entire country, but Google said it’s putting an extra emphasis on seven states: Pennsylvania, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

Of those seven states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Massachusetts each ranked among the twelve worst states in the country in terms of opioid-related overdose deaths as of 2016.

The CDC also reported statistically significant increases in drug overdoses, from 2016 to 2017, in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Arizona.

As of Thursday, a Maps search on an iPhone for “drug disposal near me” from a location in Center City turned up six potential drop-off spots: a Center City Walgreens; a CVS and a Walgreens just off Passyunk Avenue; a CVS and a Walgreens deep in South Philly; and a CVS in Kensington.

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