Supervised drug injections cut overdoses

April 25, 2011 at 1:49 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 25 (UPI) -- After a supervised injection facility opened in Vancouver, deaths from illicit drug overdose declined 35 percent, researchers say.

Lead author Brandon Marshall, a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and formerly of the Urban Health Research Initiative where the study was conducted, says the study assessed the impact of supervised injection sites on overdose mortality.

The facility, opened in 2003 in response to an HIV epidemic and escalating overdose death rates in the neighborhood, enables injection drug users to consume pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of nurses. It supervises more than 500 injections on an average day.

The researchers reviewed nearly 300 case reports from the British Columbia Coroners Service documenting all illicit drug overdose deaths in Vancouver from Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2005. The Urban Health Research Initiative opened in 2003 and since then there have been no overdoses at the facility.

"The results of the study clearly indicate that supervised injection facilities such as Insite are playing a key role in reducing mortality rates from illicit drug use," Marshall says in a statement.

Previous research shows the facility's ability to reduce HIV risk behavior, increase access to addiction treatment and primary healthcare services and reduce healthcare costs, Marshall says.

The findings are published in the Lancet.

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