Prescription heroin gets green light in Canada

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Baku, September 16, AZERTAC

“Health Canada” has amended its regulations to allow Canadian doctors to prescribe heroin as a treatment for those who are severely addicted to the drug, according to CNN. Last week's change to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act permits doctors to apply for permission under the federal Special Access Program to offer their addicted patients diacetylmorphine: pharmaceutical-grade heroin.

The government referred to a "medical need for emergency access to diacetylmorphine" in the regulation.

"A number of countries have allowed doctors to use diacetylmorphine-assisted treatment to support the small percentage of patients with opioid dependence who have not responded to other treatment options," the regulation states. "There is also a significant body of scientific evidence supporting its use."

Prescribing heroin to severe addicts who don't respond to other treatments may not cure them of their habit, according to Oviedo-Joekes and her colleagues, but it can lessen their exposure to life-threatening health risks, such as drug overdoses, blood-borne viral infections and endocarditis, an inflammation of the chambers of the heart. Studies indicate that prescription heroin reduces illicit drug use and so decreases criminal activity and health care costs, so the greater societal toll is lessened.

This fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government will sponsor a summit to address the issue of opioid addiction, Health Minister Jane Philpott told 660 News.

According to Oviedo-Joekes, opioid deaths in Canada are on the rise. Not all provinces keep count, she said, but the numbers in British Columbia are more than double last year's figures.

"In British Columbia, the last [death] count was beyond 400 people, and it is estimated by the end of the year we will reach 800 deaths due to fentanyl," Oviedo-Joekes said, citing a coroner's statistics.

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