The group representing doctors in British Columbia is welcoming Health Canada’s move to allow doctors to prescribe heroin to treat severe opioid addiction.
Doctors of BC President Alan Ruddiman says in the midst of a public health crisis, it’s all about harm reduction.
“What we need to understand about heroin is that it is used to support in medical circles a very small percentage of patients who have not responded to other treatment options in their addictions, such as using methadone as a treatment option. So the most difficult and most resistant to treat patients are also the most vulnerable.”
Health Canada says it has come to the conclusion that prohibiting access to heroin for medical emergencies is not in the public interest.
It’s considered a huge victory for harm reduction advocates to see the ban reversed.
Ruddiman says doctors will only prescribe heroin as treatment for the severely addicted.
“We are all aware of the opioid crisis that we have in British Columbia right now, so this is all about harm reduction. It’s about being able to connect physicians with patients who are attempting to address addictions, to improve their quality of life, to reduce harm, and to improve the public safety.”
Health Canada says scientific evidence supports the move.
The federal regulatory body says it is “not a treatment option for the large majority of opioid dependency cases.”