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New Heroin Maintenance Pilot Program in the Works

In its June 5, 2009 edition, the Drug War Chronicle reported that "Canada's conservative federal government is providing funding for a heroin prescription pilot program in Vancouver and Montreal," which "will begin providing heroin to some 200 hard-core users later this year" ("New Heroin Maintenance Pilot Program to Get Underway Later This Year"). The program comes as a welcome surprise to drug policy reform advocates, who earlier expressed disappointment in the Canadian government's court battle to close the region's sole safe injection facility, dubbed Insite.

As the Chronicle reports, the study - called the Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness or SALOME - primarily consists of a "three year trial" that "builds on a similiar multi-year program," the North American Opiate Maintenance Initiative (NAOMI), that took place in Vancouver and ended in the summer of 2008. SALOME "will offer heroin in both pill and injectable forms, and will also offer hydromorphone to see if it could be used as a substitute." In doing so, the government hopes to "assess whether prescription heroin is a safe and effective treatment and whether users will accept the drug in pill form." The program will cost around $1 million, and as of early June, researchers were still recruiting participants in order to begin the study in the Fall of 2009.

For a more indepth analysis, see the Chronicle piece linked above.

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