New York City's 1st public health vending machine offers naloxone to help fight overdose crisis

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Monday, June 5, 2023
Public health vending machine aims to save lives with free naloxone
New York City health officials unveiled the first free public health vending machine in Brooklyn on Monday.

BEDFORD STUYVESANT, Brooklyn (WABC) -- New York City health officials unveiled the first free public health vending machine in Brooklyn on Monday.

The vending machine at 1676 Broadway is meant to reduce stigmas and barriers to services in the city's fight against overdose deaths.

The machines are stocked with items like naloxone -- a drug which can reverse overdoses, fentanyl test strips, hygiene kits and safe sex kits.

To get the supplies, the user must enter their NYC zip code.

The city's health commissioner said the machines are a practical step in the fight against the overdose crisis.

"We need to empower people, communities, our neighbors with everything and anything they need, when they need it, on demand to save a life, to save their own life, to use safely and to be safe," said Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "Every three hours, we're losing a New Yorker."

Vasan said the $11,000 price tag per machine is worth it.

"If that saves a life, the moral cost, the economic cost of someone going to the hospital for treatment, it just makes perfect sense," Vasan said.

Overdose deaths in New York City have reached historically high levels. In 2021, the city says there were 2,668 overdose deaths in NYC, compared with 2,103 in 2020. In 2021, 84% of overdose deaths involved an opioid. Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, was involved in 80% of all overdose deaths. There were 1,370 confirmed overdose death in the first half of 2022.

As part of the Care, Community, Action plan released in March, the city set a goal of reducing overdose deaths by 15% by 2025. Increasing access to free naloxone is part of the plan to reduce overdose deaths.

The machines will also offer hygiene kits, maxi pads, vitamin C, first aid and wound kits and coronavirus tests.

Similar machines in the United States, Europe, and Australia have demonstrated success at reducing rates of overdose and infectious disease.

The machine unveiled Monday is the first of four that will be rolled out by the city this year.

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