Vancouver researchers find pain medication can work as treatment for severe heroin addiction
Since November 2014, a small group of Vancouver doctors has administered prescription heroin as a treatment for severe addiction to opioids.
Peer-reviewed studies have found that prescription heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, can improve the lives of patients who have repeatedly failed with traditional treatments such as methadone. But doctors are only allowed to prescribe diacetylmorphine to a small group of specific patients. (A change in regulations by former Health Minister Rona Ambrose is before the courts; in the meantime, only 202 people covered by an injunction can access the drug.)
Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes is the paper’s lead author and a researcher with Providence Health Care’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences. In a telephone interview, she said that patients administered either hydromorphone or diacetylmorphine were both found to use significantly less heroin purchased illegaly.
Travis Lupick reports
Dr. Scott MacDonald, Providence Crosstown Clinic