France looks to be the latest European country to embrace the harm reduction practice of providing supervised injection sites for hard drug users, according to France 24 TV. Facilities could be open by year's end, said Health Minister Marisol Touraine.
Supervised injection sites are credited with lowering overdoses, reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases, improving client health and public health, providing entrée to drug treatment and other medical and social services, and reducing public disorder. They have also been linked to reductions in neighborhood crime.
President Francois Hollande campaigned on a promise to establish the first supervised injection sites in the country, and Paris Deputy Mayor Jean-Marie Le Guen endorsed the idea in August. Several French cities are ready to test the practice, Touraine said.
The conservative opposition party UMP criticized the plan, saying in a statement that allowing such facilities "trivializes drug use and legalizes the use of the hardest drugs at the taxpayer's expense."
In moving forward with supervised injection sites, the French government is going against public opinion, but with science. While an August 2010 Ifop poll found 53% supported the sites and 47% opposed them, a similar poll by Ifop last month found only 45% in favor and 55% opposed.