By Kathy Gyngell
Free heroin dispensing on the NHS is getting closer. For seven years now the Department of Health has pumped our money into its ‘injectable opiate treatment trials’ to prove that it ‘works’. Now, according to announcement this week, it plans to pour good money after bad, efficacious or not and regardless of other austerity measures. With lifesaving drugs being denied to people in need, there can be no justification for its ‘Phase Two programme roll out’
According to NTA accounts we have already funded this ‘experiment’ to the tune of £4.5 million, and nearly £2 million just in the last two years. The total spent since 2005 when the trials started, I have not yet been able to elicit, though one dedicated centre cost a cool half million to set up and run. The press officer I was directed to could not tell me. Nor did he know how much had been budgeted for the future of this ‘programme’.
The DoH declared on the press release that Injectable Opioid Treatment (IOT) is a ‘clinically-effective second-line treatment’ for people with chronic heroin addictions. This is based on its trial results. An alternative view of them, however, is that they prove the adage that an addict always wants more. For the 127 addicts initially involved in the trials it must have seemed all their Christmases had come at once.