Pubdate: Friday 16th July. 
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Author: Dr Andrew Byrne


Dear Editor:

Retired general Barry McCaffrey has no credentials to advise us on drugs
policy, unless we are to call in the army. Americans can claim few prizes in
their "war against drugs", except regarding research which they too often

HIV, overdose, hepatitis and crime are all high, while treatment is
restricted to a privileged few, estimated to be one in eight regular heroin
addicts in the US.

While previously a critic of methadone treatment, the general now strongly
supports its use in normal medical practice to improve access for more addicts.

Despite his efforts over five years, American doctors are still barred from
prescribing this cheap and effective medicine for addicts.

On the brighter side, Switzerland's annual opioid overdose rate of five per
million is comparable to 1900, when opium products were also very popular.

Australia and the US have 10-20 times this rate, which equates to more than
500 preventable deaths if we could follow Swiss trends.

The carnage among young Australians will continue as long as John Howard
takes advice from people without runs on the board.

More than 2,000 grieving parents this year deserve better answers than
"current policies are working just fine".

Dr Andrew Byrne, Redfern.

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