Philadelphia to mull safe injection sites in opioid fight

In this Feb. 16, 2017, photo, a discarded syringe sits in the dirt with other debris under a highway overpass where drug users are known to congregate in Everett, Wash. As overdose deaths from opioids and heroin spiked the mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson, took steps to tackle the epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle. Now, Stephanson is suing pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, becoming the first city trying to hold the maker of OxyContin accountable for damages to his community. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - As Philadelphia heads for a record year of drug overdose deaths, a task force is proposing a series of actions, from combatting stigma to considering allowing safe sites where drug users could inject heroin.

Gov. Tom Wolf joined Mayor Jim Kenney in outlining the task force's findings Friday. Kenney convened the 23-member group in January to focus on developing a plan to combat the city's opioid epidemic.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says experts are predicting Philadelphia's opioid deaths this year will exceed 2016 numbers, reaching nearly 1,200 deaths.

Overdose deaths surged to 900 in 2016, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Safe injection sites are locations where users can shoot up under the supervision of a doctor who can administer an antidote if necessary.

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