Authors of a recent article featured in The New England Journal of Medicine discuss the importance and demand for new harm reduction approaches and substance use disorder treatments given the rise of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overdose-prevention centers provide a safe space for individuals to consume pre-obtained drugs in controlled settings and have been associated with significant reductions in opioid overdose. Section 856 of the Controlled Substances Act however, creates uncertainty and challenges for organizations operating or using overdose prevention centers. Authors suggest the Biden administration publicly declare they would not interfere with public health interventions. They likewise suggest the administration publicly state that Section 856 of the Controlled Substances Act does not apply to legally sanctioned overdose-prevention centers and that they should work with Congress to modify current legislation to exempt overdose prevention centers from Section 856. Overall, this type of evidence-driven approach would aid in ending the drug overdose epidemic.
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