San Francisco to open nation's first safe injection sites in July: 5 things to know

San Francisco health officials are moving forward with a plan to launch two safe injection sites for intravenous drug users in July without the blessing of state officials, according to a report the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here are five things to know.

1. The injection sites could open shortly after July 1 when the city's new fiscal year begins. Barbara Garcia, director of San Francisco's Department of Public Health, told the Chronicle she's working with six to eight nonprofits that already operate needle exchanges. The department will select two of these organizations to operate the safe injection sites in the new fiscal year.

2. As federal and state law prohibit illicit intravenous drug use, the safe injection sites will be privately funded to help the city avoid liability for the sites. Ms. Garcia would not disclose the source of the private funds to the

3. While officials in cities like Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia are considering safe injection sites as a possible harm reduction technique to save lives and reduce the spread of disease, the San Francisco sites could be the first established in the United States, according to the Chronicle. Similar sites have already been established in Canada, Australia and Europe.

4. An estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users live in San Francisco. Public health officials project 85 percent of these individuals would utilize the sites, which would result in an estimated $3.5 million in annual savings for the city due to reduced medical costs.

5. On Thursday, The Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece composed by the paper's editorial board in support of the San Francisco safe injection sites.

"In addition to the lives we hope will be saved, the payoff from San Francisco's efforts will be the data," wrote the LA Times editorial board. "If the results mirror the very well-examined experiences of the first safe injection center in North America — the Insite clinic in Vancouver — they should quell fears once and for all that these injection centers will just be modern day opium dens. The sooner the effort begins, the better."

More articles on opioids: 
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Alabama AG takes aim at Purdue Pharma with opioid lawsuit  
West Virginia loses $8.8B to opioid crisis every year, analysis finds

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