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Health Highlights: Oct. 3, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Federal Judge Rules Drug Injection Sites Don't Break Drug Laws

On Wednesday U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled that injection sites where addicts can safely use illicit drugs do not violate federal drug laws.

The ruling involves a proposed "safe house" in Philadelphia -- a clinic where addicts can go to take their drugs in the privacy of a partitioned bay. Help is also available on premises in case of an overdose, as well as drug and treatment and counseling, according to the Associated Press.

According to the judge's decision, drug laws passed by Congress in the 1980s don't cover these types of injection sites.

The case against the site was brought by U.S. Attorney William McSwain, an appointee of President Trump. McSwain called the goal of these sites "laudable" but said supporters were misguided, the AP reported.

However Democrats -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell -- all support the sites, saying they could help reduce the 1,100 overdose deaths that occur in Philadelphia each year and help addicts get treatment.

The Justice Department will most likely appeal the ruling. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement that, "any attempt to open illicit drug injection sites in other jurisdictions while this case is pending will continue to be met with immediate action by the department."

Safe injection sites are already operating in Canada and Europe. Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts, are also considering adopting them, the AP reports.

"It's a better option than having people die in streets and alleyways and fields. And it will also help the community," Debbie Howland of Drexel Hill, Pa., who lost a daughter to an overdose death last year, told the AP.

However, neighborhood groups and city council members who represent the area are against the plan and pledged to continue to fight it.

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Posted: October 2019

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