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Canada allows doctors to prescribe heroin

Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 18:13:34-04

Doctors in Canada are now able to prescribe patients battling addiction with medical heroin.

Health officials in Canada announced the change last Friday.  It once again makes heroin eligible for the Special Access Programme (SAP).  The SAP allows certain drugs that are otherwise off the market to be made available to patients.

For heroin addicts that aren't having success with other available treatments, doctors will be able to apply for permission to prescribe those patients with diacetylmorphine or prescription-grade heroin.

Gail Czukar is CEO of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario.  It's an association of 220 groups in the province that provide mental health and addiction services.  She believes this is the right move.

"There's good evidence to show that prescription heroin is a good idea for people who have tried other treatments like methadone or suboxone and it just hasn't worked for them," she said.

Czukar says the goal is to provide stability for those struggling with addiction under the guidance of medical professionals.

"It's much safer for the individual," she said.  "They're not buying drugs on the street that are cut with other things that are even more dangerous."

But Dr. Paul Updike disagrees.

"I just think it opens up a door into saying that we're just going to treat this addiction by giving you this medication, this drug, that you're addicted to," he said.

Dr. Updike runs Addiction Medicine Treatment Services for Catholic Health.

"I just think it's not the best way to treat this problem," he explained.

Dr. Updike would prefer to see more time and effort spent making the current treatments more accessible to addicts in Western New York.