Give free clean drugs to addicted users, say top B.C. health officials

published on January 19, 2017 by Rob Shaw in The Province

VICTORIA “” Top health officials in B.C. are actively discussing a plan to prescribe clean heroin or other opioids to people with addictions, in an attempt to stem the rising death toll caused by street drugs tainted with fentanyl.

B.C.’s chief medical officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, said Thursday he supports a provincewide program in which those suffering from addiction, who are at high risk and can’t be treated with conventional means, are given clean medical heroin or synthetic morphine and a safe place to inject.

Kendall said he envisions a network of trained addictions physicians and usage sites.

“Each health authority would have several places where an addiction expert was able to address and triage these people, and in a clinic where maybe it was attached to a supervised consumption site,” he said.

“We’ve had some discussions with the college,” said Kendall. “In fact, Dr. Evan Wood in the B.C. Centre on Substance Use is drafting guidelines for opioid prescription, which would need to be run past the college and need to be approved by a number of addictions physicians and others in B.C.

“It’s a process in terms of clinical guidelines that is already happening, and hopefully we can move on it sooner rather than later.”

The push for clean drugs would require political buy-in from the B.C. Liberal government, four months before an election. It would also have to surmount public cynicism that making it easier to access opioids will just create more drug users.

View the full article