By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0, approved an amendment to implement $5 million in programs recommended by the Harm Reduction Commission created by the Legislature in 2018. Provisions include $1.5 million to increase the availability of sterile and safe injection equipment and syringe disposal services; $150,000 for a pilot program to provide access to fentanyl testing strips or other drug checking equipment; and $300,000 to increase the availability of nasal naloxone (brand name Narcan) rescue kits prior to discharge from a facility after treatment for an opioid overdose. Naloxone rescue kits include naloxone and other items used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose.

“For close to two decades, the opioid epidemic has consumed communities across the commonwealth,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), the sponsor of the amendment. “We need to focus on what we can do to save lives and harm reduction is an evidence-based approach used to keep people using opioids alive and safe until they progress into clinical treatment … Harm reduction itself should not be seen as a way to end opioid use, but rather as a valuable survival plan, one that has started to gain consensus across the political spectrum as the right thing to do to save lives.”

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