In over 10,000 sessions, secret supervised opioid injection site hasn’t had a single death or hospitalization

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A nurse holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at a safe injection clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Credit: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

Operators of the supervised injection site say that over the course of five years, 10,514 injections and 33 opioid-involved overdoses, they have never needed to call paramedics to revive any of their clients.

The site allows people who take drugs to be watched over by trained staff members who are equipped with naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, said Alex H. Kral, lead author of the study. The research — published [July 8] in the New England Journal of Medicine — is the most comprehensive look at how such an operation can safely operate in the United States.

And the results provide data clarity as lawmakers consider measures to allow similar operations in California, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Kral said.

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“We’re doing the work to see what we can learn from it and whether it works or doesn’t work, and then see if it can drive policy in some sort of way,” he said.

The injection site is invitation-only and allows people to bring drugs obtained before entering the facility and to inject them with sterile needles provided by the operation. In a separate room with seating, users can safely stay post-injection for as long as they like.

Experts said they hope the newly published findings show such a program can succeed. And they are pushing for other harm-reduction ideas to get wider consideration.

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