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Philadelphia Says It Supports Supervised Drug Injection Sites

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Philadelphia, health officials announced yesterday they're going to support the development of supervised drug injection sites. But federal officials are not on board with this idea, as Nina Feldman of member station WHYY reports.

NINA FELDMAN, BYLINE: The idea behind supervised injection sites is that people can safely inject drugs under medical supervision using clean needles. An estimated 1,200 people died last year in Philadelphia from drug overdoses. The city estimates that such a facility in Philadelphia could prevent up to 76 overdoses per year. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says these sites aren't just about harm reduction, they're also an access point for treatment.

THOMAS FARLEY: The most important thing for the site is that it be something that's inviting to drug users. We need to make it easy for those people to come in so that you can then engage them.

FELDMAN: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner says he won't go after people using drugs in a supervised area.

LARRY KRASNER: I think it's wonderful that the city is doing something that they did not do in the early days of the AIDS crisis and certainly something they didn't do during the crack crisis.

FELDMAN: While local support has grown, there are no guarantees on a federal level. Patrick Trainor is a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Philadelphia. He says they can't condone a measure like this.

PATRICK TRAINOR: The criminal activity that will come through this area will essentially doom neighborhoods that have it.

FELDMAN: Studies have not found supervised injection sites reduce neighborhood crime. For NPR News, I'm Nina Feldman in Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.