On Monday, New York City health officials unveiled the first free public health vending machine in Brooklyn.
“Public Health” Vending Machine
A vending machine at 1676 Broadway is meant to reduce stigmas and barriers to services in the city’s fight against overdose deaths.
It’s stocked with items like naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses, fentanyl test strips, hygiene kits, crack pipes, and safe sex kits.
Each tray on the vending machine holds between 13 and 18 products, accessible to the public by punching in their correct zip code.
The big blue box was installed in Brooklyn on Monday and will offer potentially life-saving Naloxone to drug users who have overdosed on opioids, along with instructions on how to use the drug.
By 11:30 am, the only products left were two fentanyl-testing kits – the entire vending machine was wiped out in less than 24 hours.
Elan Quashie, the Opioid Overdose Program Director at Services for the Under Served, said: ‘We’re going to restock every day. Probably multiple times a day.’
During the restocking on opening day, officials did not restock any crack pipes.
Officials Say It Is Effective
Officials say similar machines in the U.S., Europe, and Australia have demonstrated effectiveness at reducing overdose rates and the spread of infectious diseases.
“We are in the midst of an overdose crisis in our city, which is taking a fellow New Yorker from us every three hours and is a major cause of falling life expectancy in NYC,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan in a statement. “But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion, and action. 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.”
Drug Users Weigh In
“Yes, I love it,” drug user Evelyn Williams told The Post while standing at the “public health” vending machine in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Tuesday. “They put it in yesterday, and it’s empty already.
“We have a lot of addicts and heroin users over here,” Williams said. “They should re-stock it immediately!”
“I like the Pyrex because it’s a little thicker,’’ she said, also lamenting that “you can’t even sell that [vending stuff] because the programs give you all that stuff” already for free.
One disgruntled resident, who can see the vending machine from her bedroom window, complained that it should be put in the lobby of one of the resource buildings rather than on the street.
The contents may be free for residents, but each machine will cost the city $11,000. Right now, it is unclear how many are planned.
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