York County Medicine Winter 2019 - 38

YO R K C O M E D S O C . O R G

IN THE NEWS:

Pennsylvania's Largest Physician Group
Endorses Pilot Program of Safe Injection
Sites to Combat Opioid Crisis

I

n a continued effort to help Pennsylvanians suffering from
addiction, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) agreed
to endorse the opening of independently funded pilot programs
to study the effectiveness of safe injection sites.
More than 270 physicians and medical students approved the
new policy at PAMED's annual House of Delegates on Oct. 27 in
Hershey, Pa.
Cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco have
proposed the creation of safe injection sites, where people can
use illicit drugs with trained staff ready to respond in case of an
overdose. The Philadelphia non-profit Safehouse has faced court
challenges in its attempt to build the first safe injection site in
Pennsylvania.
The idea has gained momentum in recent years as people
suffering from opioid use disorder move from prescription opioids
to illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
"The opioid epidemic is the biggest public health crisis we've
faced as a state in decades," said PAMED President Lawrence John,
MD. "We owe it to those suffering from the disease of addiction to
carefully examine proposals that may reduce harm and buy time for
them to get into treatment."

38

York County Medicine | WINTER 2019

An independent analysis by Thomas Jefferson University and
Main Line Health System concluded that a safe injection site in
Philadelphia could save 24-72 lives annually while reducing HIV
and HCV transmission. The analysis also estimated annual cost
savings to Philadelphia's health systems at $74 million.
Safe injection sites have existed in Europe, Australia, and
Canada since 1988. Studies from those countries show that safe
injection sites can reduce overdose deaths, disease transmission,
injection-related infections, and emergency department utilization.
Dane Scantling, DO, MPH, a physician representing the
Philadelphia County Medical Society, wrote the resolution that led
to PAMED's policy change after he lost a family member to an
opioid overdose.
"These sites are well studied and successful across the globe
but have been delayed by American politics while our patients die
every day," Dr. Scantling said. "Victims of the opioid crisis and
their families have been looking to us for help while the courts look
to us for guidance. This is our chance to definitively give it to them
and help bring safe injection sites to America."


http://www.YORKCOMEDSOC.ORG

York County Medicine Winter 2019

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