Google is to reinstate adverts for drug and alcohol treatment centers on its U.S. search engine from July, after it suspended ads for such facilities.
In September 2017, tech website The Verge published an expose on how vulnerable people were targeted by ads on search engines for treatment centers that were scams. "The companies are united by their dependence on Google, some of them spending huge sums on ads to show up in the searches of desperate people with the right insurance," its article stated.
Soon, the search giant will allow advertising for substance abuse treatment to appear on results pages — but only when they are first assessed by LegitScript, a company that checks the validity of internet pharmacies, supplement sellers and other online merchants.
Substance misuse is a big problem in the U.S., with 64,000 Americans dying of drug overdoses in 2016 and President Donald Trump calling the country's opioid crisis a "public health emergency." U.S. advertisers offering treatment will now need to go to LegitScript and apply to be certified before they can advertise through AdWords, Google said in an update to its ad policies this week. Adverts for addiction services are currently not allowed outside the U.S.