Public Comment to the Maryland House Health Committee Related to SB 1035 Cross‐​filed with HB 1039

February 4, 2019 • Public Comments

Dear Representative Pendergrass and Members of the Committee:

I appreciate the opportunity to submit information to this Committee, which is considering SB 1035, relating to the Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Site Programs, cross‐​filed with HB 1039.

I am a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute where I work in the Department of Health Policy Studies and the Center for the Study of Science. My areas of scholarship and public policy research include the opioid overdose problem, the unintended consequences of drug prohibition, and pharmaceutical regulatory reform. I have published numerous articles as well as a recent policy analysis on these subjects.

I attended Brooklyn College of the City University of New York from 1969 to 1973 and received a BA (1969) in biology. I then attended New York Medical College from 1973 to 1976, in an accelerated three‐​year program, receiving an MD in 1976 at which time I was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (the national Medical School Academic Honor Society). Upon completing my residency training I began a solo private practice as a General Surgeon in Phoenix, Arizona. I received my certification by the American Board of Surgery as a specialist in General Surgery in 1982, and shortly thereafter became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In addition to my private community‐​based practice, I served on the trauma team at the John C. Lincoln Medical Center Trauma Center from 1981 to 1983 and served on the voluntary teaching faculty of the Maricopa County Medical Center General Surgery Residency Program from 1981 to 1985. In 1986 I joined with two other General Surgeons to form Valley Surgical Clinics, Ltd., a group general surgery practice serving multiple hospitals in metropolitan Phoenix. I am currently the senior member of that group practice. My background in public policy scholarship, particularly as it relates to the opioid overdose problem, combined with my total of forty‐​two years of experience in the treatment of acute and chronic surgical illnesses, including infectious illnesses, qualify me as an expert on the matter in question.

In December 2019 the Cato Institute published my policy analysis entitled, “Harm Reduction: Shifting From a War on Drugs to a War on Drug‐​Related Deaths.” In that paper, I examine the decades of evidence and experience that point to the advantages of Overdose Prevention Sites in reducing drug overdoses, reducing the spread of HIV, hepatitis, and other blood‐​borne infectious diseases, and promoting an facilitating the treatment and rehabilitation of patients suffering from substance abuse disorder. Variously referred to as Supervised Injection Facilities, Safe Syringe Sites, Safe Consumption Facilities, and Drug Consumption Rooms, Overdose Prevention Sites have been in operation since the 1980s.

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