Philadelphia considers supervised drug injection sites

  • 06/04/2018

The opioid epidemic in the US has become so bad that Americans are being urged to carry the antidote, nalaxone.

The Surgeon General issued the rare advisory because overdoses doubled in the past six years, CBS News reports.

In Philadelphia, they're now considering supervised drug injection sites.

"My chest was so bruised and I mean it hurt from people giving me CPR constantly. It was ridiculous," heroin user Rachel told CBS News.

"The heroin is out of control completely any corner you go to you can get the heroin. People, I mean are overdosing left and right like it's no big deal."

She's been getting high for the past 13 years.

"I'm actual trying to get a detox because I don't want my habit to take control," she said.

The number of people who have died due to overdose in Philadelphia has quadrupled in the past five years, reaching a high of 1200 in 2017.

It's now hoping to become one of the first US cities to provide safe sites for injections and let people shoot up heroin under the supervision of healthcare workers.

The first legal injection site opened in Vancouver in 2003 and there are now 100 supervised injection sites in 66 different cities around the world.

"These facilities look sort of like a clinic," said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr Tom Farley.

"If they're simply there to inject, they bring in their own drugs that they have bought on the street, they're given sterile equipment and they inject at the site.

"If they were to overdose on site, there are medical staff on site who can revive them."

However the Federal Drug Administration isn't in favour, saying any supervised injection sites would violate federal law and would be subject to legal action.

That's not too much of a deterrent to Dr Farley though.

"You know, syringe exchange programs operate in the legal gray zone have done so for years," he said.