We're looking for scientists, academics, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to sign on to this letter, to request that Prime Minister Stephen Harper support the Supervised Injection Facility.

Please take a moment and forward this on to your colleagues.

Thank you for your kindness.

Liz Evans
Executive Director
PHS Community Services Society
+ 1 604 720 3051


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA6

RE: InSite - Vancouver's Supervised Injection Facility

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

We bring to your attention the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of Vancouver's supervised injection facility (known as InSite) as part of a comprehensive drug strategy that includes harm reduction in addition to prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

The purpose of InSite is to engage the most marginalized injection drug users who were injecting publicly in Vancouver's streets and alleys, to a) bring them into care and reduce their risk of overdose, and b) to decrease the behaviours that increase the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C and serious bacterial infections.

Since its inception, over 1.5 million injections have taken place at InSite under the supervision of a nurse.

The evaluation of InSite has been scrutinized by peer-review and editorial review at prominent scholarly journals, where experts from various disciplines and perspectives evaluate the research methods and results. This process has been the only acceptable method of vetting and disseminating high quality scholarly knowledge, and we firmly believe that it should be the cornerstone for decisions that affect public health and the lives of our citizens.

To date, this research has found that InSite has attracted a high-risk, marginalized population of injection drug users (as was intended) and reduced public disorder and public injection around the local community. Use of the facility was associated with reduced syringe sharing (by 70%) and increased use of sterile injection techniques. InSite staff has intervened on over 1200 overdoses since 2003 to prevent harm from occuring. Furthermore, those who use the facility are more likely (by 33%) to seek detoxification and addiction treatment.

Your government's own appointed (non-scientific) advisory committee - which was selected to re-examine the existing studies and create new evidence - also concluded that the site saves money, saves tax dollars, acts as a deterrent to drug use, decreases public injections, has not increased crime or drug dealing, has decreased needle sharing, has successfully saved lives by overdose intervention, does not increase drug relapse rates, and is reaching a hard-to-reach population.

The Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver both strongly endorse InSite. We urge you to recognize the legitimate scientific evidence of InSite's effectiveness and continue the exemption to allow its continued service delivery to the most vulnerable citizens in Vancouver; and to allow other jurisdictions to consider such facilities be included as part of a comprehensive approach towards addiction treatment in our country.

So many lives depend on your decision.

Sincerely,

Anita Palepu, MD, MPH, FRCPC
Associate Professor of Medicine
University of British Columbia
Stephen Hwang, MD, MPH, FRCPC
Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Toronto