Thursday, December 5, 2019

A new Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine examines a recent decision by a Philadelphia judge, which rejected the argument that an overdose prevention site, called Safehouse, would violate the Controlled Substances Act.

The life-saving, important legal development, they argue, brings not only invaluable services to Philadelphia’s injection drug-using population, but that it could support efforts by other cities considering these overdose prevention sites.

The decision signals a move toward an approach to regulating drugs that minimizes both the harms of drugs and the harms caused by regulation itself – worthy goals all around, write Center director Scott Burris and expert drug policy colleagues Evan D. Anderson, JD, PhD (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing), Corey S. Davis, JD, MSPH (Network for Public Health Law), and Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH (Northeastern University).

Illicit drug use in the United States continues to increase, and currently outpaces any other type of drug use. Overdose prevention sites are documented as effectively reducing overdose death and drug-related risk behaviors, increasing access to treatment, and reducing levels of public injection and syringe litter – this case may pave the way for these life-saving facilities to open elsewhere in the country.