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Thank you to the University at Buffalo for organizing the media event on January 22, 2024 to raise awareness on our harm reduction vending machine program. We are grateful to the news agencies that attended to promote this important service. Check out their coverage below:

Harm Reduction Vending Machines

MATTERS’ first harm reduction vending machine went live in the North Country region of New York State in October of 2023. Since then, an additional 11 vending machines went live across various communities in New York. These vending machines provide free supplies such as fentanyl test strips, xylazine test strips, and life-saving naloxone to anyone.

Vending machines are strategically located at treatment organizations, peer service locations, county health departments, private businesses, and first responder/law enforcement agencies across New York State. The machines are placed in areas that are accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. To dispense products, individuals enter a universal authentication code (8377), their year of birth, and their zip code. Individuals can dispense up to three items for free at a time.

These harm reduction vending machines are managed by community-based organizations and are funded by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).

A Glimpse of Hope

The launch of this harm reduction vending machine program is an important step in linking people who use drugs (PWUD) to resources and treatment for substance use disorder.

“These machines symbolize a vital step towards increasing access to life-saving medication and beginning to chip away at the stigma that comes with substance use disorder,” said Dr. Allison Brashear, dean, UB Jacobs School of Medicine.

“We know that patients are sometimes reluctant to walk into a building and ask for drug testing supplies,” said Dr. Joshua J. Lynch, founder of MATTERS and emergency physician with UBMD. “Now, someone can just walk up to the machine, 24 hours a day, and type in a code that’s listed on the outside of the machine. They enter their year of birth and their zip code, and they can select items (up to 3) out of the machine that they need.”

More to Come

During the media event, the MATTERS team discussed plans for expansion in 2024 and beyond.  MATTERS’ Chief Medical Officer announced “We’ll launch a new, much more sophisticated referral platform to add efficiency in how we link individuals to treatment. We will add our referral platform to not only include opiate use disorder patients, but also other substance use disorder issues, mental health referrals, and other disease processes as needed.”

The program will also see geographic expansion in 2024. Dr. Lynch continues, “We will be expanding our program into New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 2024 to further improve access to treatment for patients with substance abuse disorders in those states, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in Pittsburgh, MATTERS will launch pilot programs in both areas to facilitate linkage and provide access to medication.”