New York City installed a vending machine that dispenses free crack pipes, fentanyl test strips, Narcan (an overdose reversal drug) and condoms.
Public health officials unveiled the machine on Monday in Brooklyn at 1676 Broadway, ABC7 New York reported. Less than 24 hours after its installation the machine was empty, according to the New York Post.
The machine cost the city $11,000 to install, and it also offers residents free COVID-19 testing, feminine sanitation products, hygiene kits, Vitamin C, and first aid kits. Residents must simply enter their zip code to gain access.
The vending machine is part of the city’s effort to reduce overdose deaths by 15% by 2025, according to a health department press release.
There were 2,668 overdose deaths in New York in 2021, 80% of which involved fentanyl. Just in the first half of 2022, there were 1,370 confirmed overdose deaths, the press release says.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said every three hours a New Yorker dies from an overdose.
“But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion and action,” Vasan said. “Public health vending machines are an innovative way to meet people where they are and to put life-saving tools like naloxone in their hands. We’ll leave no stone unturned until we reverse the trends in opioid-related deaths in our city.”
Narcan, or naloxone, rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It can be administered as a nasal spray or injected. New York City’s vending machine is similar to one that was installed in Philadelphia last year; however, it only dispensed Narcan, WHYY reported.
The New York City vending machine is stocked with a ‘safe smoking kit’ which includes a heavy stem, mouthpiece, pusher, 6 screens, chore filter, and lip balm.
The kit is produced by Smoke Works Pipes, a company which claims that ‘pipes are harm reduction.’
“Pipes make it easy to “go low and go slow,” the company’s website stated. “Loading a rig takes a lot of time and if you’re in a hurry it’s easy to make mistakes and hurt yourself or accidentally take too much. With pipes, you can start with a lower dosage and hit as you go until you’ve reached your desired concentration.”