In many cities, infectious disease and overdose epidemics are occurring among illicit injection drug users (IDUs). To reduce these concerns, Vancouver opened a supervised safer injecting facility in September 2003. Within the facility, people inject pre-obtained illicit drugs under the supervision of medical staff. The program was granted a legal exemption by the Canadian government on the condition that a 3-year scientific evaluation of its impacts be conducted.
In this review, the authors summarize the findings from evaluations in those 3 years, including characteristics of IDUs at the facility, public injection drug use and publicly discarded syringes, HIV risk behaviour, use of addiction treatment services and other community resources, and drug-related crime rates. Vancouver's safer injecting facility has been associated with an array of community and public health benefits without evidence of adverse impacts. These findings should be useful to other cities considering supervised injecting facilities and to governments considering regulating their use.