Health Canada proposes changes to rules on importing prescription heroin (Dr. Scott MacDonald)

Health Canada is moving to relax rules on importing drugs, such as pharmaceutical-grade heroin, knocking down yet another barrier to a last-resort addiction treatment amid a worsening overdose crisis.

Proposed changes to the federal Food and Drugs Regulations would allow for the bulk importation of drugs not currently marketed or available in Canada as needed in urgent public-health scenarios. While it would apply to public-health emergencies, such as a flu pandemic, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott introduced the legislation with the opioid crisis – and prescription heroin, specifically – in mind.

Scott MacDonald, physician lead at Crosstown, said he was pleased to see a new way to access treatments in an emergency. “Health Canada has created a pathway to respond to a health crisis, whether the opioid crisis today or some other epidemic in the future.”

Andrea Woo reports

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