I'm pleased to announce that today, LegitScript is launching a certification program for drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers. I'm also pleased to share that Google, also today, announced that starting in July, all drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers in the United States that wish to advertise on Google AdWords will be required to obtain LegitScript certification, and be persistently monitored by LegitScript going forward.
In developing this program, we didn't go at it alone. I'm also pleased to note that our program has the support of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). These and other organizations will form an advisory committee to LegitScript to ensure the continuous improvement and accountability of LegitScript's program, and leading experts will keep LegitScript informed about new trends and challenges.
All of us at LegitScript are really excited about this new program. In many ways, it's a natural extension of the work we've done for years to make the rogue internet pharmacy problem - a driver of prescription drug abuse and other problems - smaller. One of the most pernicious problems our country faces today is opioid addiction and other substance abuse. In the midst of this crisis, some opportunistic addiction treatment providers have been cashing in on patients' recovery efforts and insurance billing opportunities. The worst of these have not only failed to provide treatment, but have encouraged ongoing drug abuse in patients trying to break the habit.
At the same time, addressing opioid addiction rates requires effective drug treatment strategies: patients and their families need to know which treatment providers are credible and legitimate, and which ones should be avoided. We hope that our program will help provide patients and our partners (like Google) information about which programs provide genuine treatment and which are, in essence, scams.
An important note about cadence: during the first three months, we're going to intentionally take it slow. Irrespective of how many applications we receive, we'll probably only certify about 20 to 30, simply so that we can make sure and get the process right. After that, we'll ramp up the speed. (This goes into the "lessons learned" bucket from our existing healthcare merchant certification program.) This also works well with Google's timeline, since they have indicated they will actually begin allowing these advertisers in July.
I also want to approach our new program with some humility. Although I believe we've got the standards right, I want to extend an invitation to experts in the field to let us know how we can improve our program, making sure that we're certifying the legitimate entities and accurately blocking the noncompliant ones. We always want to hear how we can do better. In the internet pharmacy and telemedicine space, I think that we've done a good job, but that's not only because of our internal processes and staff expertise; it's also because of the partnerships we have in place - companies, patients, and regulatory authorities that share what they are seeing with us, and help us understand how the problematic entities operate and who they are.
On a personal level, I've spent a lot of my career trying to help make the prescription drug abuse problem smaller. While it's discouraging that anyone would create a fraudulent or scammy addiction treatment business, further vicitimizing those fighting addiction, it's encouraging that companies like Google are willing to lead the way in supporting programs and standards to address the problem. We're honored to be part of the solution.
Learn more about the program on our addiction treatment page.