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Opioid Epidemic Task Force Releases First Findings

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s “Opioid Epidemic Task Force” released its findings on Friday, which featured 18 recommendations.

Health commissioner Tom Farley says the current epidemic is like no other drug crisis in history.

“What’s different about it is how much it is driven by our medical care system. Most heroin users started by using prescription pain killers that were prescribed for them by doctors and dentists,” said Farley.

So, one of the first recommendations is to educate health care professionals about their role in the problem.

Other recommendations include expanding access to treatment, especially medication-assisted treatment; spreading naloxone to prevent overdoses; and exploring “user engagement sites,” where use would be decriminalized.

“It reduces overdose deaths, gets people into treatment, reduces the amount of injection in public and the amount of drug-related trash. Now there are serious legal, practical, and law-enforcement issues that would have to be addressed to set that up,” Farley said.

City officials had no cost estimate for implementation, but Councilman David Oh noted “the cost of this epidemic is huge.”

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