Massachusetts Medical Society approves supervised injection facility pilot program

A syringe held in two hands
Although the measure passed by a vote of 193 to 21, the choice wasn’t an easy one for the doctors that voted in favor.

The Massachusetts Medical Society overwhelmingly approved a potential supervised injection facility pilot at its meeting last weekend in an effort to take on the state's opioid abuse epidemic.

The measure passed by a vote of 193 to 21, according to an article from WBUR, but despite that margin the choice wasn’t an easy one for the doctors that voted in favor.

"It doesn’t make sense for us as physicians to watch someone do something we know is dangerous and illegal," Glenn Markenson, M.D., the director of maternal and fetal medicine at Boston Medical Center, told WBUR. "On the other side, does it make sense for us to have these people overdose on the street and not get care? They’re both terrible, but you have to do something."

Despite the concerns, policymakers across the country have floated the idea of supervised injection sites as a response to the nation's growing opioid crisis. States including Maryland, California and New York and major cities including Seattle and San Francisco are considering similar programs.

The idea is backed by recent studies that show supervised injection sites can lead more patients to enter substance abuse treatment and can prevent overdose deaths. Studies also found that these facilities are not likely to encourage drug users to inject for the first time.

RELATED: Nation responds to addiction crisis: Supervised injection spaces gain steam

Society doctors that opposed the measure said the goal is noble, but said the effort is misguided and raises liability concerns. Robert Baratz, M.D., a primary care physician in Braintree, said it should be up to law enforcement to manage the problem.

The measure could also face legislative and other challenges, according to the article. It’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Charlie Baker would support the plan, and no Massachusetts cities have volunteered to host the pilot.