Financial TimesFinancial Times

Will overdose deaths force an end to the US ‘war on drugs’?

By Jamie Smyth in Philadelphia, Caitlin Gilbert in New York and Christine Murray in Mexico

04 Jan 2022 · 9 min read

Rosalind Pichardo didn’t just get her nickname “Mama Sunshine” because of her cheery disposition. For several hundred drug users in Kensington, a rundown neighbourhood in Philadelphia, she has been their lifeline: bringing each of them back from the edge of death after they overdosed.

“I revived a guy who OD’ed on the street this morning on my way to work,” says Pichardo, speaking matter of factly outside her workplace — Prevention Point — one of the largest needle exchange sites in the US. “Unfortunately, overdoses happen everyday in this neighbourhood.”

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