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Prescription heroin will be given in hopes of combating opioid crisis

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 19:54:40-04

Canada has approved prescription heroin in an effort to combat the opioid crisis the country is facing.

The heroin will be given to select patients for the treatment of "chronic relapsing opioid dependence."

"Scientific evidence supports the medical use of diacetylmorphine for the treatment of chronic relapsing opioid dependence in certain individual cases," Canadian health officials said in a statement sent to ABC News today. "Health Canada recognizes the importance of providing physicians with the power to make evidence-based treatment proposals in these exceptional cases."

The news comes as some health experts and policymakers in both Canada and the U.S. are looking to implement more harm reduction strategies, which focus on diminishing risk associated with intravenous drug use.

There were record number of deaths related to opioid overdoses in 2014 in the U.S. with 28,000 recorded deaths according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Canada, opioid-related deaths have risen sharply and make up half of all drug deaths, according to the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

Dr. Scott MacDonald developed a pilot program that studied the effects of providing prescription heroin to certain users in Vancouver and said researchers have seen huge success with the program.

*Information comes from ABC News article, which you can find here.