NYC to provide vending machines with clean syringes and heroin overdose treatments for drug users

In November, NYC became the first city to open supervised illegal drug consumption sites
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A CVS in New York City
A CVS in New York City
(Noam Galai/Getty)

New York City, in an effort to combat the rising number of drug overdoses, is establishing a program that will install public health vending machines stocked with sterile syringes and the drug naloxone – which can be administered during an overdose – and additional drug paraphernalia.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that in 2020, more than 2,000 people in the city died from unintentional drug overdoses – a record figure for the agency.

The report found that poor black and Latino communities reported the highest number of overdoses. The Fund for Public Health in New York, the non-profit that issued the proposal requesting the vending machines, wrote in the proposal about the need for the initiative as a way to combat racial inequity.

"Racial equity does not mean simply treating everyone equally, but rather, allocating resources and services in such a way that explicitly addresses barriers imposed by structural racism (i.e. policies and institutional practices that perpetuate racial inequity) and White privilege," reads the proposal.

In the proposal request, the organization suggests installing the machines in locations including the Fordham-Bronx Park, East Harlem, and Union Square. The project will cost taxpayers an estimated $730,000. 

Shortly before the new year, New York became the first U.S. city to give the go-ahead to a number of supervised illegal drug-use locations. Another effort to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic and heightened number of overdoses across the city.