Philadelphia to mull safe injection sites in opioid fight

May 19, 2017 by Kristen De Groot

A task force charged with outlining ways for Philadelphia to combat its opioid epidemic has recommended the city consider allowing safe sites, where drug users could inject heroin.

Gov. Tom Wolf was on hand Friday as Mayor Jim Kenney outlined the task force's findings. Kenney convened the 23-member group in January.

"The opioid epidemic has been taking lives, destroying families and undermining the quality of life of Philadelphians across the city," Kenney said. "This report and its recommendations offer a roadmap as to how, together, we can take action and adequately address this problem to reduce use and the devastating loss of life this epidemic is causing."

Experts predict Philadelphia's opioid deaths this year will exceed 2016 numbers, reaching nearly 1,200 deaths, said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, a co-chair of the task force,

Overdose deaths surged to 907 in 2016, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

The task force's 18 recommendations include launching a media campaign about opioid risks, expanding the availability of the overdose-reducing drug naloxone and conducting a public education campaign about the life-saving treatment. But the most controversial is the suggestion to consider the implementation of a safe injection site.

Alicia Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kenney, said such safe injection programs have had success in places like Vancouver, Canada.

"However, there are serious legal, practical and law enforcement issues that have to be considered before one of these can be opened in Philadelphia," she said.

The nationwide opioid epidemic has pushed elected leaders around the country to consider government-sanctioned sites where users can shoot up under the supervision of a doctor or nurse who can administer an antidote if necessary.

While such sites have operated for years in places such as the Netherlands and Australia, they face significant legal and political challenges in the U.S., including criticism that they amount to surrendering to an epidemic that should be fought with prevention and treatment.

The task force recommendation comes the same week a Philadelphia advocate for safe injection sites overdosed in the hard-hit neighborhood of Kensington, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Paul Yabor, 55, had devoted much of his life to advocating for HIV and AIDS victims and drug users who inject. Since January, he was working to bring a safe and supervised injection site to Philadelphia.

Explore further: AMA urges doctors to talk about safe opioid storage, disposal

Related Stories

AMA urges doctors to talk about safe opioid storage, disposal

April 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—Physicians should take three essential steps to reduce the amount of unwanted, unused, and expired medications in an effort to avoid non-medical uses of the drugs, according to a new recommendation from the ...

Canada authorizes new drug consumption rooms

February 6, 2017
Canada's health minister on Monday approved opening North America's first new drug consumption rooms in more than a decade, in an effort to contain the opioid overdose crisis.

From pill to needle: Prescription opioid epidemic may be increasing drug injection

May 8, 2017
The prescription opioid epidemic is shrinking the time it used to take drug users to progress to drug injection, a new Keck School of Medicine of USC-led study suggests.

Canada opioid crisis leads to more organ transplants

February 18, 2017
A surge in the number of overdose deaths in Canada has led to more organs being available for transplant, an official at the epicenter of the opioid crisis said Friday.

Access to naloxone eased in Louisiana, Utah

February 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Health officials in Utah and Louisiana have issued orders to make naloxone more widely available in an effort to prevent overdose deaths, according to a report from the American Medical Association.

Examiner: Philadelphia had 35 drug overdoses in 5 days

December 9, 2016
The Philadelphia medical examiner's office says as many as 35 fatal drug overdoses over a recent five-day period might be part of a bigger problem: the national opioid crisis.

Recommended for you

Buprenorphine may be safer than methadone if treatment duration is longer, study suggests

April 20, 2018
The less commonly prescribed opioid substitute buprenorphine may be safer than methadone for problem opioid users, especially if used during the first month of treatment, according to a study which includes University of ...

Binge-eating mice reveal obesity clues

April 9, 2018
Obesity is a growing issue in many countries, accelerated by easy access to calorie-dense foods that are pleasurable to eat (known as an 'obesogenic environment'). But while it's clear that eating too much leads to weight ...

New research finds drug for alcohol use disorder ineffective

February 26, 2018
A new study, published in the Addiction journal, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool highlights the ineffectiveness of a specific drug treatment for alcohol use disorders.

Most PA students tobacco-free, but vaping and cigarette use still a concern

February 26, 2018
Most of Pennsylvania's high school and middle school students are tobacco-free, but the use of cigarettes, and their digital counterpart, e-cigarettes, is still a cause for concern, according to Penn State researchers.

Cannabinoids are easier on the brain than booze, study finds

February 9, 2018
Marijuana may not be as damaging to the brain as previously thought, according to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder and the CU Change Lab.

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) May 20, 2017
250mg of healthy adult male facial skin surface lipid "face grease" pheromone that we humans usually pass in kissing, if taken by mouth alleviates opioid addiction without withdrawal symptoms.
Curing the problem would certainly be wiser than perpetuating it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.