City Releases Statements Following Federal Court Ruling on Overdose Prevention Sites
PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney, along with Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and David T. Jones, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) issued statements today following the ruling from U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh. The Judge reaffirmed his earlier decision that Safehouse does not violate federal law.
While the City will not operate an overdose prevention site (OPS), it stands ready to provide ancillary support services. The City also stands ready to expedite service requests that come from residents who live near such a site. The City’s full public safety plan can be found here.
Mayor Jim Kenney:
“We applaud the Court’s affirmation of its earlier ruling that Safehouse doesn’t violate the federal statute. The City will continue to support private operators such as Safehouse that seek to establish overdose prevention sites in Philadelphia.
“It is important to remember that these sites are — first and foremost — about saving lives. In fact, experts estimate an OPS in Philadelphia could save 24-76 lives a year. They provide a venue so that public health professionals can connect individuals to drug treatment and other vital support services. They prevent the spread of infections such as HIV and hepatitis C, while also reducing public drug use and discarded drug-related litter that affect quality of life in our neighborhoods.
“The bottom line is that overdose prevention sites — which exist in more than 100 cities around the world — offer compassion for fellow human beings, rather than misguided incarceration that only perpetuates the cycle of drug abuse. When a resident is suffering, our job as a City is to support efforts to alleviate that suffering, and to save lives.”
Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health:
“We are gratified with the court’s ruling that it is legal to operate an overdose prevention site that helps those who are addicted to opioids get into drug treatment and keeps them alive until they start treatment. We intend to support Safehouse as it moves toward opening a site in Philadelphia.”
David T. Jones, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS):
“Overdose Prevention Sites save lives. We know this to be true based on research and the role that such sites have played in supporting individuals and communities that are combating the opioid crisis on a global scale. We have been working for the past several years to expand treatment opportunities and to remove existing barriers to treatment. Overdose Prevention Sites offer another pathway to connect people with opioid use disorder to treatment. Expanded access to treatment benefits those in need, as well as the entire city of Philadelphia.”