Canada starts prescribing heroin to people dependent on drugs
Doctors in Vancouver have become the first medics in North America to administer prescription heroin to drug dependents. The treatment will only be given to a group of patients who failed to respond to traditional therapies.27 Nov 2014
Doctors in Vancouver have become the first medics in North America to administer prescription heroin to drug dependents. The treatment will only be given to a group of patients who failed to respond to traditional therapies.
“For this group the addiction is so severe that no other treatment has been effective,” David Byres, vice president of acute clinical programs at Providence Health Care, told Canadian media. “The goal is stabilization,” The Globe and Mail Newspaper cited Byres as saying.
The program will be performed in Providence Crosstown Clinic in Canadian city. Byres added that the treatment is only prescribed for those patients for whom traditional therapies such as methadone have failed to work at least 11 times.
Canadian doctors are trying the treatment on a group of 202 patients, of which 120 have received diacetylmorphine (heroin) prescriptions. However, only 26 addicts will get their first heroin treatment next week, as so far there are only enough drugs for that number of people.
According to Byres, a doctor should write a prescription and submit an application to the federal Special Access Program (SAP). When the form is approved, then the clinic receives the drug for the patient.
The average cost of one patient’s treatment is $27,000 per year, said Byres, adding that it is covered by the clinic.
“When they come into the clinic, not only do they receive treatment for their addiction; they receive primary care or medical treatment, they can get counseling, they can get mental health care,” Byres said.
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