Google has banned advertisements from unscrupulous U.K.-based rehab clinic referrers on the search engine.
The move followed a Sunday Times report which said that Google “has been profiting from a practice….in which brokers secretly reap millions of pounds from vulnerable people seeking treatment for addictive diseases in the United Kingdom.”
“Patient brokering,” as the practice is called, is prohibited “in much of the United States,” a TechCrunch report said.
Google banned ads from clinics that refer patients in the U.S. to rehab facilities and removed the category in September last year.
The ban on such ads has been extended to clinics operating in Britain, Google announced.
The company said in a statement: “In the US, we restricted ads entirely in this category and we have decided to extend this to the UK as we consult with local experts to update our policy and find a better way to connect those that need help with the treatment they need.”
The search giant pointed out that substance abuse “is a growing crisis and has led to deceptive practices by intermediaries” that the company needs to understand better.
‘Free Advice Helplines’
The Sunday Times said the brokers or referral agents advertise themselves on Google as “free advice helplines” but can afford the costly advertising rates because the brokers reportedly receive as much as £20,000 monthly as commission by referring even just one caller to a private rehabilitation facility.
And the Sunday Times’ undercover probe showed that Google “charged the middlemen as much as £200 (equivalent to 200 U.S. dollars) each time someone accesses their website with a single click on the advertised link at the top of a Google search page.”
Google has banned ads from shady rehab clinic referrers operating in Britain following reports that the company has been profiting from the practice.
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