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Thursday, December 4, 2014
Heroin to be Prescribed to Small Group in Vancouver
December 3rd, 2014/
Doctors at a medical clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia will prescribe heroin to a group of 120 adults severely addicted to heroin, according to The Atlantic. Canada’s Health Secretary opposes the policy.
The decision was made following a study of prescription heroin that included 26 participants, the article notes.
Vancouver is home to North America’s only government-sanctioned facility that medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs. People addicted to drugs can bring and use them at the facility, called InSite, without risking arrest. Some people line up two or three times a day to use one of the facility’s injection booths. They are given clean needles to reduce the spread of infections such as HIV and hepatitis C, and are supervised by a nurse as they inject themselves.
Despite the availability of clean needles, several dozen people have overdosed on heroin at InSite in recent months, usually through using drugs purchased on the street. In one two-day period in October, there were 31 overdoses.
In 2011, the medical journal The Lancet published a study that found InSite reduced fatal overdoses by 35 percent in a neighborhood that has one of Canada’s highest rates of drug addiction. InSite, funded by taxpayers, says that for every tax dollar spent, four are saved, by preventing more expensive medical care in the future.
The Canadian federal government does not support the facility. In 2011, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in favor of keeping InSite open, against the wishes of the federal government. The court said the facility provides people with drug addiction access to the same healthcare as other Canadian citizens.