Resilience Smart Cities

NYC vending machines will give people syringes, opioid overdose treatment

In this May 10, 2018 photo, a Narcan nasal spray dispenser is displayed in New York. (Associated Press photo/Mark Lennihan)

Story at a glance

  • New York City is establishing a program that will install public health vending machines (PHVM) in 10 spots across the city to combat overdoses and the opioid epidemic.
  • The PHVMs will dispense sterile syringes, the drug naloxone — administered to combat overdoses — and additional health supplies.
  • In 2020, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported 2,062 people died from unintentional overdoses.

New York City is establishing a program that will install public health vending machines (PHVM) across the city to aid drug users “disproportionately burdened” by overdoses in a new step toward combating overdoses and the opioid epidemic.

In December, the nonprofit organization, Fund for Public Health in New York, issued a proposal request for installing 10 PHVMs throughout New York City, which will dispense sterile syringes, the drug naloxone — administered to combat overdoses — and additional health supplies. The proposals are to include proposed installation sites, budgets, maintenance plans, and proof of previous outreach experience in underserved and drug-plagued communities.

In 2020, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported 2,062 people died from unintentional overdoses, the highest reported overdose rate since the department began data collection in 2000. The data found that Black and Latino residents living in communities with the city’s highest poverty rates reported the most overdose deaths, as well.

“Racial equity does not mean simply treating everyone equally, but rather, allocating resources and services in such a way that explicitly addresses barriers imposed by structural racism (i.e. policies and institutional practices that perpetuate racial inequity) and White privilege,” the Fund for Public Health in New York’s proposal request states.


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The nonprofit organization outlined possible areas to install the vending machines in its proposal request, including the Fordham-Bronx Park, East Harlem, Union Square, Rockaway and Brooklyn’s East New York, among others.

The initiative is projected to cost taxpayers $730,000, and the deadline for submitting PHVM proposals is Jan. 20, with additional funding set to be announced on Jan. 31.

In November, New York became the first U.S. city to green light supervised consumption sites for illegal drug use, in another effort to combat the opioid epidemic and increase in overdoses.


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