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Europe: Denmark Parliament Approves Heroin Maintenance Pilot Project

The Danish parliament Monday has given its approval for a heroin maintenance pilot project, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Danish Health Ministry. The project will be aimed at the Scandinavian nation's most recalcitrant heroin users.

If it goes according to plan, the pilot project will begin this year and last through 2009. It will cost about $14 million dollars and some 500 of Denmark's most marginalized and most affected heroin users will participate. Heroin will be prescribed in combination with methadone. The aim is to rehabilitate problem drug users and reduce their criminal activity, the health ministry said.

Denmark will join a select group of European countries, including Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where such programs have consistently resulted in a decline in property crime, as well as improvements in clients' health and welfare. Also allowing experimentation with heroin maintenance are Great Britain, which restarted it last year well over a decade after the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher had shut it down, and Canada, where Vancouver hosts the North American Opiate Maintenance Initiative (NAOMI), the only such program in North America. Earlier this month, the city of Tel Aviv announced it was seeking permission from the Ministry of Health to initiate a pilot program as well.

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Europe: Denmark's heroin maintenance program

Factual correction: Thatcher's Conservative government did not 'shut down' heroin maintenance prescribing to drug addicts in the mid-1990s, as this article suggests. The 'British System' of treatment of opiate addicts, as it was known, was officially ended in 1969-1970, when UK drug clinics and GPs turned to prescribing methadone to the addict masses. However, a few dozen doctors continued to prescribe heroin to heroin addicts, because they were free to do so within British medical culture and law, and regarded it as an effective option. From 1984, these included my old mate Dr. John Marks, famed for doing so in Merseyside until the late 1990s (first in Liverpool, later in Widnes/Halton and Warrington). Many believed that his departure to New Zealand in 1998 signalled the end of the British System, when in fact more than a dozen doctors have continued to prescribe heroin to around 400-500 addicts over the past decade. The current trial of heroin prescribing in Britain, based at three drug clinics, has added around another 500 addicts to the lucky group prescribed heroin,

Russell Newcombe
Senior Researcher
Lifeline, Manchester, England

u.s. to england in heroin clinics

im from phila u.s.a. and on a methadone clinic at 260 mgs each day i have been at this present clinic for 1.5 years and been clean from all narcotics for 6 months im back at college now and i do have many health problems heart, hep c, lung,and depression though i am sober i been depressed every day and since america approves of everything in the u.k. and they see that it has a positive outcome why not do a trial basis here but here in the states drugs are big business legal and illegal and it is profit for the prisons which now a great many are privatized and the dea,police depts.would not have jobs also remember 4 years ago when dea agents had to buy all the cocaine and heroin coming into america n.y.c. because bin laden had poisoned all the shipments if they could do that then it could be done everyday it was in the new york daily news and fox news cable doctor marks please come to america and help us advocate i know when i graduate uni i plan to live in the u.k or netherlands props and much respect to doctor mark he is a real pioneer

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