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1 million injections and no fatalities

14 November 2017
Over 1 million injections supervised with no deaths

More than 1 million injections have been supervised in Sydney's Safe Injecting Facility with no fatalities occurring since the centre opened in 2001.

Research by the University of Sydney into the safety of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has found that more than 1 million injection events have occurred with no fatalities.

The Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has operated in Sydney’s Kings Cross since 2001, providing health facilities and support to people who inject drugs.

The research, which will be presented today by lead researcher Associate Professor Carolyn Day from Sydney Medical School at the Australasian Professional Society Alcohol & other Drugs Scientific Alcohol and Drug Conference.

The research has found the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has supervised more than 1 million injections from 2001 to 2016 with medical intervention required on less than 10 per cent of occasions.

Associate Professor Day says the results prove the effectiveness of the facility in providing a safe environment for clients and assisting users in accessing education and other health services.

“Safe Injecting Facilities (SIFs) provide a safe place for people to inject with few adverse events. No deaths have occurred in 15 years of operation across more than 1 million injections at the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

“This covers periods of a changing drug market including increased methamphetamine use, pharmaceutical opioid use and more recently the emergence of fentanyl, a highly potent pharmaceutical opioid,” she says.

“The service also provides clients with education and referral to counselling and rehabilitation services. Each interaction with a client represents engagement which would not otherwise have taken place.”

Associate Professor Day says Safe Injecting Facilities in operation around the world and not just in Sydney have been shown to reduce not only overdoses, but decrease the transmission of viruses and provide access to treatment programs.

“SIFs operate in a number of countries, but most commonly in Europe. Overall, the evidence shows that they are effective at reducing overdose, increasing safe injecting and decrease blood-borne virus risk.

“They also attract the high risk drug users and increase access to social services and drug treatment. SIFs have been shown to increase public amenity and reduce public injection.”

Across the 15 years the injecting facility has operated there have been over 900,000 injections without any adverse events or medical interventions required.

According to the study results, timely interventions were required for 6,816 opioid overdoses and 783 other adverse events. An additional 68,628 other interventions were provided and at least 12,520 referrals to other medical services. Across more than 1 million injections, interventions were required on less than 10 percent of occasions.

The Medically Supervised Injection Centre in Kings Cross, Sydney has been run by Uniting NSW/ACT since 2001.

Elliott Richardson

Assistant Media Advisor (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)