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AMA: We Endorse Pilot Supervised Injection Facilities

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2016 file photo, Ithaca, N.Y. Mayor Svante Myrick questions Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro during a Community Development and Housing Standing Committee meeting at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington. Myrick wants his city to be the first in the U.S. to offer a supervised injection facility, where heroin users would be able to shoot up under the care of a nurse. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The American Medical Association  recently endorsed pilot facilities for supervised injection of drugs. It's a response to the opioid epidemic. 

The City of Ithaca last year gained a lot of attention when it proposed a supervised injection facility. These already exist in Canada and 8 other countries. People suffering from addiction can go to a site and inject or use their drugs under medical supervision. Advocates say they prevent overdose deaths.

Earlier this month, the AMA - the nation's largest organization of doctors - endorsed supervised injection facilities on a pilot basis.

Dr. Patrice Harris heads the AMA's opioid task force. She said it's a way to gather data. "We've always, number one, looked to the evidence to guide our treatment decision making, of course in partnership with the patient," she said. "And we also know that [new] public health crises sometimes requires new strategies."

But supervised injection is illegal in New York. 

Earlier this week, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, a Democrat, introduced a billto legalize these sites.

It's unlikely to get backing from the GOP-led State Senate. Republican Fred Akshar of the Binghamton area spoke Thursday on the public radio show Capital Pressroom. Akshar said supervised injection would never get his support.

"If we're going to be investing resources, [going to] be putting our time and energy into something, it's my position that we continue to do that in the arena of prevention, treatment, education and recovery," he said.

Even if there were enough legislators on board, advocates would have to wait. The state legislature just finished its 2017 session.