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Insite gets strong scientific endorsement as lifesaver

Another peer-reviewed study has confirmed that Insite, a supervised injection facility on the downtown East Side, has saved many addicts from deaths by overdose.

The report, published online today in the British medical journal The Lancet, examined overdose mortality rates before and after the opening of Insite (September 2003 to December 2005). "We compared overdose fatality rates within an a priori specified 500 m radius of the SIF and for the rest of the city." The findings:

Of 290 decedents, 229 (79·0%) were male, and the median age at death was 40 years (IQR 32—48 years). A third (89, 30·7%) of deaths occurred in city blocks within 500 m of the SIF. The fatal overdose rate in this area decreased by 35·0% after the opening of the SIF, from 253·8 to 165·1 deaths per 100 000 person-years (p=0·048).

By contrast, during the same period, the fatal overdose rate in the rest of the city decreased by only 9·3%, from 7·6 to 6·9 deaths per 100 000 person-years (p=0·490). There was a significant interaction of rate differences across strata (p=0·049).

The findings confirm earlier studies including one in Harm Reduction Journal and another in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which said: "The threat to close Insite appears to be based more on emotional reactions to the facility and drug addicts than to cost-effectiveness analyses."

A third article, in the International Journal of Drug Policy, warned that "disregard for the outcome of peer review recommendations represents a serious breach of international scientific standards."

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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