Following a record-setting year for opioid-related deaths in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday night that the city will open safe injection sites for drug users, BuzzFeed News reports.
Safe injection facilities provide people with clean needles, supervision by staff trained in overdose prevention, and connections to other health care including addiction treatment.
"The opioid epidemic has killed more people in our city than car crashes and homicides combined," de Blasio said in a statement. "After a rigorous review of similar efforts across the world, and after careful consideration of public health and safety expert views, we believe overdose prevention centers will save lives and get more New Yorkers into the treatment they need to beat this deadly addiction."
Three other cities across the United States—San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia—have announced plans to open safe injection clinics. While there are no legal safe injection sites operating in the U.S. yet, there are dozens around the world. The first legal site in North America opened in Vancouver over 15 years ago, and economic analyses suggest the facilities could save cities across the U.S. millions in health-care costs.
De Blasio's plan, which involves opening as many as four sites across the city for a half- to one-year pilot program, will need the support of the several attorneys general and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who directs the State Health Department, in order to move forward.