NYC to Install Vending Machines to Aid the Opioid Crisis

4 months ago  •  Add Comment  •  by Meagan Zirpoli

Since 1999, more than a million people have fell victim to fatal overdoses throughout the US. 2020 had record-breaking, unintentional overdoses in NYC with a total of 2,062 deaths. Among these 2,062 people, a vast majority occurred in neighborhoods with the highest rates of poverty. The neighborhoods, such as East Harlem and South Bronx, have a higher population of Black and Latino residents that were negatively affected according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics.

In efforts to suppress these drastic numbers, a non-profit organization, Fund for Public Health in New York, proposed a pilot for public health vending machines (PHVM). The pilot program is to have 10 vending machines across NYC in neighborhoods with higher fatalities. Theses vending machines will supply naloxone, sterile syringes, and other harm reduction and wellness supplies. This method has been implemented in other countries like Europe and Australia where the reuse of syringes has since decreased as well as deaths. While NYC was the first city in the US to implement supervised consumption sites for illegal drugs, other cities such as Las Vegas and Cincinnati already have PHVM like the proposed in place.

There are several controversies over the PHVMs. For one, residents are concerned about the vending machines becoming a hub for people to do drugs. Placing these in poorer neighborhoods creates an inequality for the children in them to have to see every day. Another one being that the expected cost for the pilot program is $730,000 which is to come out of taxpayers’ dollars. Some believe that this money would be better spent on rehabilitation programs instead.

Naloxone is already supplied in over 2,600 pharmacies in New York State for people to acquire without a prescription. While this his can help lower the burden of supplying Naloxone on pharmacists, those obtaining it are likely missing the proper advisement from trusted professionals.

For more information on the PHVMs, view the Funds for Public Health in New York’s Request for Proposals.

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