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Presentation: 05:07

Poster attached as supplemental file below


The drug supply in Philadelphia, PA has become increasingly unstable, and overdoses are expected to reach the highest number ever recorded in 2021. Drug checking is a harm reduction method that can test drugs for people who use drugs and inform them of results so they can make a more informed choice about whether and how to use a drug. A point-of-care drug checking program, in which people who use drugs can bring a substance to be checked using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) technology, can use portable technology to detect multiple adulterants and diluents in a sample. To determine the feasibility and acceptability of a prospective drug checking service in Philadelphia, we interviewed 40 people who use drugs about their interest in such a program, sampling to include people of different races/ethnicities, different types of drug use, and different areas of the city. We asked participants for concerns about utilizing a program, what they would do with results, and captured feedback about recommendations for structuring a program. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by four coders using NVivo software. Participants discussed their drug use, current risk mitigation strategies in an opaque drug market, interest in using a drug checking program, how they felt access to such a program may impact drug use, and how such a program should ideally be structured. Enthusiasm for a service was unanimous. Some concerns were noted and will be important to address structurally within a drug checking program, such as by providing legal protections to both staff and consumers. We recommend that this service partner with an established harm reduction agency and the implementation a pilot site in the Kensington neighborhood.