MLA recommends use of painkiller Hydromorphone to battle addiction

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Photo via West Ward Pharmaceuticals

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s addictions minister has tasked health authorities to move quickly to scale up use of an injectable drug that could save the lives of chronic substance users who haven’t responded to treatment with oral medication.

New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy says hydromorphone is urgently needed for people struggling with addictions and that its use as part of clinical practice would be the first in North America.

The B.C. Centre on Substance Use released a report today providing guidelines on the use of hydromorphone, which is currently prescribed at one Vancouver clinic, where some patients are treated with pharmaceutical heroin.

A landmark study in 2016 showed that the painkiller hydromorphone is just as effective at treating heroin addiction as pharmaceutical heroin for people who have failed at recovery using methadone or suboxone.

The B.C. Centre on Substance Use report says the high rate of addiction in the province has placed a heavy burden on communities dealing with crime, public disorder and health costs.

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More than 1,800 people died of overdoses in B.C. between January 2016 and July 2017.