HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html MPs To Back 'Heroin On NHS'
Pubdate: Sun, 19 May 2002
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2002 BBC
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


MPs are set to back Home Secretary David Blunkett's call for more addicts 
to be prescribed heroin, the Observer reports.

Mr Blunkett believes more people dependent on drugs should get access to 
them on prescription provided they agree to seek treatment.

The Observer reports that his view will be endorsed by the Commons Home 
Affairs Select Committee when it issues a report next week into Britain's 
drug problems.

The MPs will also reportedly propose the use of controversial "safe 
injecting areas", such as those seen in some continental countries, the 
paper says.

A Home Office spokeswoman told the newspaper that there was nothing new in 
proposals to make greater use of diamorphine - so-called medical heroin.

She said: "The home secretary's position has not changed since October when 
he said that doctors should prescribe more drugs if that is a way to bring 
addicts in for treatment."

A Department of Health spokesman said that "heroin is not available on the 
NHS" and stresed there were no plans to make it available

"Diamorophine is currently available to a very small number of drug users 
prescribed by specialist GPs and we don't have any plans to change that," 
he said.

Think Tank Debate

The Observer also reports that next week's Commons Home Affairs Select 
Committee report will recommend that cannabis be downgraded from a Class B 
drug to a Class C drug, with ecstasy reclassified as a Class B drug.

Separately, a left-wing think tank is to debate whether legalisation would 
be the best way to conquer Britain's drugs problem.

The Foreign Policy Centre, of which Prime Minister Tony Blair is patron, 
will discuss whether it would be better to deal with the causes of drug 
abuse rather than concentrating on punishing users.

Its debate is scheduled to take place next week before the select committee 
report is published.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth