Pubdate: 5 Dec 1998
Source: New Scientist (UK)
Page: 52 Letters to the Editor
Copyright: New Scientist, RBI Limited 1998
Author: David Bolton


In your editorial on the medical use of cannabis (14 November, p 3)
you wrote "Doctors in Britain have been allowed to prescribe heroin
for people in chronic pain, yet there is no evidence that this heroin
ends up on the black market."

"Have been" may be the nub of the statement. Back in the 1960s, I was
able to prescribe Guinness for my elderly chronic bronchitics in
Britain, but at about that time heroin was withdrawn from the
pharmacopoeia for the very reasons you say there is no evidence for.
There was also concern for the safety of the staff on wards where the
drug was kept because intruders were apt to be violent in seeking out

The medical profession generally resented this change as heroin is a
far more effective analgesic than morphine and doesn't produce
intolerable nausea.

David Bolton
Otago University Medical School
Dunedin, New Zealand

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady