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Showing promise in B.C., prescription heroin now in peril

posted Oct 6, 2013, 6:20 AM by Victor   [ updated Oct 11, 2013, 7:34 AM ]
I recently posted about Health Canada approving prescription heroin for some doctors in B.C. to use in a clinical trial. The federal government has now reversed this decision, effectively banning the prescription of heroin for any reason. The article at the Globe and Mail contains information about the numerous benefits of heroin-assisted treatment for those who have failed to benefit from convention treatments such as methadone. There is also a great explanation of how the whole process of heroin-assisted treatment works. In the last 20 years, several European countries (Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK) have implemented prescription heroin programs, and it has been proven to be a safe and effective second-line treatment for the small percentage of addicts who don't respond to other treatments.
Showing promise in B.C., prescription heroin now in peril
October 5, 2013


At 59, Doug Lidstrom says he is close to overcoming the heroin addiction that has dominated three-quarters of his life. Participation in a groundbreaking clinical trial has helped stabilize his habits and, perhaps within weeks, he will be among the first in North America to receive prescription heroin to help further combat his addiction.

But a swift decision by the federal government announced this week has halted Health Canada’s authorization of doctors to prescribe the drug. This means when doctors run out of Mr. Lidstrom’s three-month supply of diacetylmorphine (heroin) – which hasn’t arrived yet – the Vancouver resident must turn back to the conventional treatments that have failed him many times before.

In her announcement Thursday, Health Minister Rona Ambrose described the change as the closing of a “loophole” that allowed for the exploitation of a federal program. By banning doctors from prescribing “dangerous drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD,” effective immediately, Ms. Ambrose made good on a vow of two weeks earlier, when her department first authorized the applications: to ensure it never happened again.

“This is turning me into a yo-yo,” Mr. Lidstrom said. “It’s playing with people’s lives.”

The Pivot Legal Society, which is representing Mr. Lidstrom and others in his position, will be exploring legal options that could include a constitutional challenge, said lawyer Scott Bernstein.

Continue reading at The Globe and Mail...