Safe injection frustration

New York City announced this week that it plans to open “safe injection” sites for heroin addicts. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept and don’t want to read this explainer article we so kindly linked here for you, the basic idea comes down to harm reduction. Essentially, by providing users with sterile needles and emergency medical supervision (see: Naloxone), these sites could greatly decrease the amount of deaths and medical complications associated with illicit heroin use. European countries are less averse to the idea, citing study data which show these benefits as well as others like less public injecting and increased addiction treatment entry. That’s a harder sell in the US, where the dominant mindset is Just Say “No”.

A mayor, a pharma company, and OxyContin walk into a courtroom

Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. According to CBS News, the city of Everett, Washington is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the medication OxyContin, for gross negligence and nuisance. The lawsuit, currently in a federal court in Seattle, claims Purdue was “supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious pharmacies and physicians and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market,” and claims this is responsible for the city’s heroin crisis. Purdue has responded saying they are “deeply troubled by the abuse and misuse of our medication,” and “we look forward to presenting the facts in court.” If the case gets traction, look for other cities and states to take similar action – or for the sake of weak puns, follow suit.