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San Francisco opening nation's first heroin injection site

The facilities would provide a safe space where people can use obtained drugs such as heroin and fentanyl under staff supervision.

SAN FRANCISCO (WTHR) — The San Francisco Department of Public Health has endorsed a task force's recommendation to pen the nation's first legal safe injection sites, NBC26 reported.

The facilities would provide a safe space where people can use obtained drugs such as heroin and fentanyl under staff supervision. That staff is trained to respond in the event of an overdose or medical emergency, according to NBC26.

"I understand the misgivings around it and some of the rhetoric from people who don't support it," San Franciso Mayor Mark Farrell told NBC26 last week. "But we absolutely need to give it a try."

Opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in the United States. More than 42,000 people in the US died from opioid drug overdose in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

San Francisco plans to open its first two facilities in July 2018.

There are an estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users in the city, the Safe Injection Services Task Force reported. The hope is to not only save lives but also save the city approximately $3.5 million a year in medical costs.

Other cities looking into similar programs are Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia.