Google removes addiction treatment ads from UK search results

Google has removed search ads related to addiction treatment in the UK, following an investigation by The Sunday Times (registration required).
The investigation revealed an ongoing issue with middlemen bidding on the terms and receiving large kickbacks from the private centers where the searchers are ultimately referred to, in a practice called “patient brokering.”
The companies frequently masquerade as impartial help lines without disclosing their business model to the searchers that encounter them. The move to remove them from UK results follows an earlier change in the US. Google began removing ads from addiction treatment-related query results in the US starting in September of last year.
The practice of patient brokering is illegal in several states in the US, but it is not illegal in the UK. Critics of the practice cite this as one of the reasons for the increased cost of care, pointing out the high commissions paid out to the referral agents have to come from somewhere. Those

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