Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 
Source: The Age (Australia)
Author: Karen Lyon


One of Australia's leading drug experts, Professor David Penington, has
backed calls for a heroin trial in Melbourne.

Professor Penington said drug reform was a "step by step" process and a
trial where long-term drug addicts would have legal access to heroin should
be the first step.

Prohibition had not worked because society had been unable to reduce the
supply and demand for illicit drugs, he said.

Yesterday in The Sunday Age, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr Ivan Deveson,
called for widespread reform on the drug issue and said he would welcome the
establishment of a heroin trial in the city as a way of reducing the growing
number of deaths from heroin overdose.

Professor Penington, who headed the Premier's Drug Advisory Council in 1996,
has also been advising other lord mayors as they try to combat the growing
drug trade.

Cr Deveson said the city was close to a decision on safe injecting rooms for
heroin users.

But Professor Penington said the proposal could not be considered while the
use of heroin was illegal. If injecting rooms were introduced, they should
be set up as an extension of the current needle exchange programs, he said.

Professor Penington applauded the State Government for last week's trial
introduction of four new drugs to help users beat heroin addiction.

One trial will compare two drugs, LAAM and buprenorphine, as maintenance
treatment in 522 users, against methadone in 522 users. Another maintenance
treatment trial will involve 40 people taking slow-release oral morphine. In
the third trial, 250 addicts will take buprenorphine as a withdrawal
treatment. In the fourth, 100 former users taking naltrexone to prevent
relapse will be compared with 100 people taking dummy pills. 

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett