Source: Copenhagen Post
Feb. 28th 2008
A near unanimous parliament agreed on Monday to begin a two-year, DKK 70 million (9.5 mill. €) pilot project that will make heroin available
by prescription to addicts that social workers determine to be beyond
the reach of other detox methods.
The decision marks a change in political attitudes in the 15-year
debate over prescription heroin.
The decisive support for the decision came from the prime minister’s
Liberal Party after the health minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, aired
what was to be a change in the government’s position during the 2007
general election campaign.
Final resistance to the idea of prescription heroin eroded after a
National Board of Health report concluded recently that similar
programs in other countries had been successful.
The guidelines of the program will be established by the end of the
year, and starting in 2009 it will become the responsibility of local
councils to determine which heroin addicts qualify for prescription
heroin and to oversee distribution.
Funding for the pilot project was announced as part of this year’s
disbursement of national Social Focus Pool funds – a Social Ministry
funding program that will contribute DKK 3.7 billion over the next
three years to scores of social welfare initiatives.
The Social Focus Pool was established in 1991 and individual project
funding is evaluated by parliament annually.
Comment of Joergen Kjaer, Danish Drug Users Union
Naturally we are happy that our more than ten years of hard
struggles finally seems to be fruitful – but now the fight continues
for human conditions.
The very first information that I got about the guidelines is this:
The heroin will be combined with orally methadone for 500 most injured
opiate users, who will need to show up twice a day and inject on
observed basis on the clinic – and the oral methadone will be given as
a take home and intended to cover night dosing.
It is a known fact that many sell their methadone to buy heroin.
Therefore the politicians fear that we would also sell the heroin, if
given on a take home basis.
My argument is, that heroin works 3-4 times shorter and for that
reason has a build-in control element. If given home for the night someone decide to sell the dose, (s)he will be sick as a dog within eight hours – therefore that is not a likely option. No one is that stupid – but
apparently they don’t know anything so we have to teach them about
reality. Now we have struggled for 15 years – and I’m optimistic and
hope that it won’t take us more than a year or two before we will be
able to get our medication on fair basis on the local pharmacy like
other people who need medication.
Every time a new country started heroin trials we got heavier
arguments. It is therefore also my hope that the news about a heroin
trial in Denmark, will boost the debate and help our peers with more
energy and better “verbal ammunition” in the countries where the
politicians not yet have decided in the matter. Every time a new
country started I said; It is a live saving concept and not particular
“banana” republic’s who have taken the lead. Now we got heroin on
prescription in Great Britain, Swizz, Nederland, Germany, Spain,
Canada, Belgium and now Denmark.
Good luck to all of you – especially to those of who work for it on