Users of opioid-dispensing machines overdosed less, reported improved health: study

published on May 15, 2023 by Andrea Woo in Globe and Mail

Nearly every participant in a study of a Vancouver safer supply program involving opioid-dispensing machines continued to use illicit drugs – but they used less, they experienced fewer overdoses and they reported improvements in health and well-being.

The findings of the first formal evaluation of the mySafe program, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), present a complex picture of one of the most hotly-debated responses to Canada’s toxic drug crisis. Authors of the qualitative study say it captures both benefits and drawbacks to the novel intervention, and offers new considerations on barriers to accessing drug therapies more broadly.

Mark Tyndall, a physician, researcher and professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, launched the mySafe program in 2020. It was predicated on the idea that by giving people who use street opioids autonomy to access a regulated supply without barriers such as having to visit a pharmacy for witnessed clinical ingestion, it could attract and retain more patients. Those patients would then reduce dependence on, and overdose risk from, the highly toxic illicit supply…

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