FREE HEROIN FOR DRUG STUDY
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver heroin-users have become the first in North America to be given free prescription heroin, as part of a controversial drug trial that began yesterday.
The North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) started treating just three drug users, but will eventually recruit 157 people for the two-year study.
"Today, the treatment stage of the NAOMI study begins," said spokesman Jim Boothroyd. "The clinical trial is fully up and running. NAOMI is the first clinical trial in North America of prescribed medical heroin."
They'll be split into two groups -- one receiving heroin, the other methadone -- to find out if heroin is better for addicts who've failed at methadone or abstinence.
The heroin users will attend the heavily-secured clinic three times a day, seven days a week, to be given their fix in a safe-injection room.
"The site has the security requirements of Fort Knox," said Boothroyd.
"There's very little heroin on the site, and the site is extremely secure."
Methadone users will come twice a day to drink their heroin substitute.
The participants get free drugs and medical care, but will only make $150 over the trial by filling out a half-dozen questionnaires.
The synthetic heroin is made in Europe, and is stored in a secret location.