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NYC restaurants press for free fentanyl test strips and Narcan

Their trade group says the lifesavers are necessary to combat a spike in opioid overdoses.
Narcan opioid overdose
The New York City Hospitality Alliance wants Narcan and fentanyl test strips distributed to restaurants and nightclubs. / Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs in New York City are urging City Hall to provide free fentanyl testing strips and the overdose antidote Narcan to nighttime hospitality venues as a way of reducing opioid-related deaths.

“We can save lives, just like CPR kits can save lives,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group for restaurants and other nightlife establishments.

The Alliance joined two City Council Members and representatives of local Phoenix House treatment centers on Thursday to call for the safeguards.

Specifically, they asked that the city provide up to five free safety kits to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues and any other hospitality business with heavy nighttime clientele. Each would include strips that reveal when a drug has been adulterated with fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, to boost the potency. Narcan would also be included.

Rigie indicated in a statement that the materials would available to employees,, guests and passers-by.

Like many areas of the country, New York City has been beset by deaths from opioid overdoses.  According to City Council Member Chi Osse, one of the legislators who’s pushing for the kits, opioids killed 30.5 of every 100,000 New Yorkers in 2020, compared with a rate of 21.9 in 2019.  

“Overdose deaths plague our society and that’s why it’s critically important to invest in harm reduction at our city’s social spaces, like bars, nightclubs, and restaurants,” commented Rigie.

Restaurants in a number of other jurisdictions, including Delaware and San Francisco, are already stocking Narcan and fentanyl testing strips.

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