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Germany to Establish Heroin Maintenance Program

According to a report contained within the June 3, 2009 edition of the Drug War Chronicle, "The German parliament has voted to allow the prescription of heroin to addicts who have not responded to other treatments" ("German Parliament Approves Heroin Maintenance"). The new law applies only to those "who have been using [heroin] for at least five years, are at least 23 years old, and who have failed to stop in other treatment programs." Eligible individuals will "receive pharmaceutical heroin in designated treatment centers," following a successful pilot program on which the law is based.

Other countries - including Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland - have implemented similar measures, which have generally produced positive outcomes. Germany's pilot study, "conducted in seven cities between 2002 and 2006," concluded that the program resulted in "reduce[d] crime, overdose fatalities, and HIV among hard-core [heroin] users.

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