Google to limit addiction treatment ads

People often turn to Google when they need fast information on a medical problem, including drug addiction. But, flaws in the search engine's advertisement structure may lead drug addicts seeking help toward rehab centers that are unfit to treat them, reports The New York Times.

This week, Google stopped selling ads targeted toward searches for "drug rehab" or "alcohol treatment centers," which often produce results for rehab centers. Those centers, which may pay Google $70 per ad click, can reap tens of thousands of dollars from patients seeking their 30-day treatment services.

"We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision," Google spokeswoman Elisa Greene said in a statement Thursday, according to the NYT.

Since these treatment services bid for their ad's placement near the top of a list of search results, Google searches arguably encourage patients to select these advertised facilities, even if they do not cater to their specific needs.

"People don't always know what good treatment is," Vivek Murthy, MD, who served as surgeon general during the Obama Administration, told the NYT. "I am glad Google took steps to prevent the spread of these false ads."

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