Pubdate: Thu, 03 Feb 2005
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Stanley deVlaming, MD
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


Re: Heroin study is worth a try for the sake of addicts and society, 
Editorial, Feb. 2

The recent media coverage about the heroin prescription trial does a good 
job of illustrating the high degree of anticipation and hype that the trial 
has created for downtown Vancouver addicts. Unfortunately, that widespread 
anticipation might make it impossible to conduct an objective experiment. 
How meaningful will it be to compare the group of 88 elated subjects who 
win the heroin lottery to the group of 70 who were also desperately trying 
to get the free heroin, but lost the luck of the draw?

The first group will likely be very motivated to give the researchers 
positive results, while the second disappointed and disgruntled group 
randomized to methadone would be much less motivated.

The recent news stories also illustrate that the addicts are acutely aware 
that their behaviours and responses during the study might also determine 
whether free heroin might be available afterwards.

In the end, this $10-million heroin trial might turn out to be more of an 
experiment in changing social policy than objective science. I think it is 
important to expand the public dialogue on the trials, although it might be 
more honest to be debating the pros and cons of legalization rather than 
the merits of this study.

Stanley deVlaming, MD

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