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.
Borne, Elias, "Gathering Perspectives on a Proposed Drug Checking Program in Philadelphia" (2022). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 433.