New York plans to install “vending machines” with overdose drugs

New York plans to install “vending machines” with overdose drugs


New York City health officials have announced a plan to install 10 “health vending machines” that will dispense sterile syringes, overdose medication and other “harm reduction products” to help neighborhoods hit by drug overdoses.

The vending machines, slated for neighborhoods in all five boroughs, will also carry toiletries and safer sex kits, according to Michael McRae, deputy deputy commissioner for the city’s health department. All items in the machines will be free, he said, adding that the department hoped to have the machines on the street this year.

“This is really about expanding access to health and wellness services,” he said of the initiative, a $ 730,000 pilot program that is looking for up to six contractors.

The main purpose of the vending machines is to curb overdoses across the city by increasing the availability of naloxone, a drug that quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. “There’s an overdose here every four hours,” said Dr. McRae. “It’s something that doesn’t allow people to die every hour.”

As across the country, opioid deaths have increased significantly in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. According to data released by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last year, there were 2,062 overdose deaths in the city in 2020 – the highest total since overdose deaths began being reported in 2000 and over 500 more in 2019.

“New York City overdose deaths are not evenly distributed across the city, with some groups and neighborhoods seeing disproportionate increases,” the New York nonprofit Fund for Public Health said in a call for proposals from organizations last month who are interested in taking the lead on the project. The fund, which made the application on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Mental Hygiene, has set a deadline for submitting proposals on January 20. The health department awards the contracts on January 31st.

According to 2020 Department of Health data, overdose deaths among white New Yorkers had declined in the past three years, while rates among black New Yorkers had increased in the previous year and rates among Latinos had increased for five straight years.

Residents in impoverished black and Latino neighborhoods like Mott Haven in the South Bronx and East Harlem in Manhattan reported the highest rates of accidental overdose deaths in 2020.

“Structural racism in drug policy and enforcement has been linked to decreased access to services, poorer health outcomes and an increased risk of overdose,” the query said.

In the tender, several neighborhoods were named as priorities for the machines, including Central Harlem and Union Square in Manhattan, Far Rockaway in Queens, Stapleton in Staten Island and East New York in Brooklyn.

Access to clean needles is important to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, as well as skin and soft tissue infections. Mike Selick, deputy director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition, said on Thursday.

“We know that having access to syringes is effective; that’s just another form of ithe said in an interview. Syringe access programs are a proven way to lower HIV infection rates by limiting the reuse of contaminated needles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Proposals like New York’s are about “making the materials, health equipment and care available to the people who need them most, where they are already, on their schedule and in their schedule, and without stigma or shame. “Sheila P. Vakharia, deputy director for research and academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance said Thursday.

In New York State, people can already get up to 10 clean syringes at pharmacies participating in the state’s expanded syringe access program. But according to Dr. In Vakharia, many drug users avoid face-to-face interactions with a pharmacist, and many pharmacies are closed late at night when drug use is more common and people are most in need of safe supplies.

The same goes for access to naloxone, she added. “It is a drug that should be readily available and accessible for people when they need it most, and it does no harm if we make it more readily available”, She said.

Critics of the proposal have said the vending machines do not address the most critical problems related to addiction.

“I agree that we cannot ignore the devastating data on drug addiction and overdose without doing more,” councilor David Carr, a Staten Island Republican who represents one of the plan’s prioritized neighborhoods, said in an email on Thursday.

“But I think it’s irresponsible to put syringe and narcan vending machines in neighborhoods without giving addicts the support and real help they need,” he added, referring to a branded version of naloxone.

However, proponents of the plan claim that installing the vending machines is “the smart thing”.

We don’t want it to be easier to get hold of dirty needles, ”said Mr. Selick of the National Harm Reduction Coalition. “We don’t want getting drugs on the street easier than the help, supplies, and good information you need to know.”



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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