Jane Philpott says pharmaceutical heroin a potential lifesaver in opioid epidemic (Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes)

Giving people with severe addictions prescription heroin could save lives as Canada continues to struggle with an opioid overdose epidemic, says Health Minister Jane Philpott.

“I know this is a challenging concept for some people to think about, but the reality is that when people go out on the streets they often commit crimes to be able to get the drugs they need. They're buying dirty drugs and they're dying,” the physician-turned-politician said in an interview with Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio's The House.

So far, Providence Health Care's Crosstown Clinic on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood particularly ravaged by the opioid crisis, is the only clinic in North America that offers addicts actual heroin.

Catherine Tunney reports

Read the full story here