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As fentanyl deaths rise, state legislatures resist ‘hurt discount’ methodology : NPR

The Biden administration is embracing healthcare efforts designed to scale back the lethal impression of fentanyl dependancy — however many state legislatures are resisting the “hurt discount” method.


However first, we flip to the fentanyl epidemic. Yesterday Pennsylvania state Senate handed a invoice that may ban supervised drug injection clinics. These are applications that intention to scale back overdose charges. However as fentanyl deaths maintain surging, some state lawmakers nationwide are pushing again in opposition to so-called hurt discount applications. NPR dependancy correspondent Brian Mann is with us to speak about this backlash. Hello, Brian.


PFEIFFER: Would you first outline hurt discount?

MANN: Yeah. So it takes most individuals experiencing dependancy, particularly extreme dependancy with a drug like fentanyl, a very long time to recuperate. So the aim of hurt discount is to maintain folks alive and as wholesome as attainable till they’ll get therapy and counseling. The Biden administration has actually been emphasizing this method as deaths have soared, making medical care and dependancy therapy drugs extra broadly obtainable. And a few organizations need to go even additional than the Biden crew. They’re pushing for applications like supervised drug injection websites, locations the place folks can use avenue medication below medical supervision and get assist in the event that they overdose.

PFEIFFER: And these are very controversial applications. In order we have mentioned, some state legislatures are pushing again. The place is that this taking place?

MANN: Effectively, we’re seeing bipartisan discomfort with these concepts all around the U.S. In Philadelphia, the place greater than 1,200 folks a 12 months are dying from overdoses, there is a group known as Secure Home. They have been negotiating with the U.S. Justice Division, hoping to open one in all these clinics. However Democratic state lawmaker Christine Tartaglione, who represents part of Philadelphia hit arduous by drug dependancy, launched a invoice that may ban this type of clinic. Right here she is talking with WHYY.

CHRSTINE TARTAGLIONE: My constituents don’t need protected injection websites within the neighborhood. I feel it permits dependancy. We ought to be within the enterprise of getting these of us therapy.

MANN: Now, a long time of analysis contradict that argument that these clinics allow drug use. However the ban handed the state Senate this week in Pennsylvania by a large margin with bipartisan help – nonetheless has to make its manner via the State Home. I ought to say state lawmakers in Colorado additionally lately voted down a measure that may have allowed related supervised injection websites.

PFEIFFER: Past pushback to those websites, are state lawmakers making an attempt to restrict different kinds of hurt discount?

MANN: Yeah. Yeah. They are surely. West Virginia has made it a lot more durable for communities to open needle trade applications which might be confirmed to assist cut back the unfold of ailments like HIV/AIDS. In Idaho, lawmakers lately handed a measure to restrict federal funding for Narcan or naloxone. It is a drug confirmed to reverse opioid overdoses. I spoke about this pattern with Ronda Goldfein. She’s on the board of Secure Home. That is the group that wishes to open the supervised drug use clinic in Philadelphia. She says it is irritating that lawmakers are backing away from public well being methods which may save lives.

RONDA GOLDFEIN: We’re in an overdose disaster. The protected solution to proceed is to essentially have a look at the entire choices and never simply rule issues out as a result of it does not appear proper.

MANN: And one different a part of this pattern, Sacha, is state legislatures, Nevada being the most recent, which might be pushing a lot harder prison penalties, together with necessary jail time, for folks caught with even actually small quantities of fentanyl.

PFEIFFER: And, Brian, why are states transferring on this extra conservative route?

MANN: Effectively, there are such a lot of deaths, 80,000 fentanyl deaths now a 12 months, extra folks fighting dependancy. It is turn out to be a political flashpoint. I spoke about this with Kendra Neumann. She’s a drug coverage analyst at a nonpartisan group known as the Colorado Well being Institute. She says there’s actually a contest underway over learn how to method this dependancy disaster.

KENDRA NEUMANN: , folks have felt for the reason that pandemic that there have been rising crime charges. Homelessness in Colorado particularly has turn out to be extra seen. And lots of people affiliate that with drug use. And I feel that has simply heightened the dialog about overdoses and about drug use.

MANN: Consultants I talked to, Sacha, say strain on state lawmakers to maintain getting harder on fentanyl – it is solely going to develop as we head into subsequent 12 months’s election season.

PFEIFFER: NPR’s Brian Mann. Thanks.

MANN: Thanks.

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