The Globe on Vancouver’s new heroin for addicts plan

June 1, 2009 at 10:22 am Leave a comment

Trial to give free heroin to hard-core addicts in Vancouver and Montreal

It’s known as the SALOME trial, and it follows on the heels of the NAOMI study.

The NAOMI trial was criticized by some addictions physicians but drew no comment from the federal government, which paid more than $8-million for the research.

“It’s been disappointing,” said Martin Schechter, who led NAOMI and is also working on SALOME. Dr. Schechter said European health authorities are very interested in the work, but Canadian authorities will not acknowledge it.

“There’s a lot invested in NAOMI. We did everything we could to translate the information for decision-makers to make them understand what it meant,” he said.

Dr. Krausz, a leading addictions researcher, has conducted another heroin trial in Germany, the largest such randomized clinical trial in Europe.

The Canadian research aims to determine if medically prescribed heroin is a safe and effective treatment and if users will accept the drug in pill form instead of injecting it.. It will also measure whether a licenced narcotic, Hydromorphone, can be used instead of heroin.

His team is now recruiting about 200 severe heroin addicts who have failed to respond to existing treatments and they expect to have the clinics in Vancouver and Montreal open by this fall.

Last week, Dr. Krausz’s medical team sat down with Vancouver philanthropists asking for additional support for the clinics that will distribute both heroin and a legal narcotic substitute to hard-core addicts. Organizers say one business leader immediately offered a cheque for $100,000.

Can this work? Only if detox and effective addictions treatment are close behind, just as it should be with a needle exchange or supervised injection site. I fear too many carrots and not enough sticks are being offered. All the programs targeted for addicts must have as their end goal the elimination or reduction of the drug use that shatters the body, brain and spirit.

Entry filed under: needle exhange, safe injection sites, social issues.

Updates? Globe discussion on SALOME project

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