By Corrinne Burns / The Pharmaceutical Journal

Scotland’s first heroin-assisted treatment service has launched in Glasgow city centre. But a pharmacist involved in designing the service has said a drug consumption room is ”urgently needed” to run alongside it.

The Enhanced Drug Treatment Service (EDTR), which is licensed by the Home Office, will provide diamorphine to patients with heroin addiction who have not responded to other forms of treatment.

Patients are currently being recruited to the service, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of December 2019. Patients will administer the drug themselves, on-site, under supervision from clinical staff, and must commit to attending the clinic twice a day, seven days a week. Up to 50 patients will be able to use the service at any one time.

In addition to receiving diamorphine, service users will be offered addiction counselling and support with social welfare issues including housing and benefits advice.

Scotland has the highest level of drug-related deaths in the EU, and the nation’s drug-related death rate per head of population is almost three times that of the UK as a whole. Recent data from National Records for Scotland show that in 2018, 1,187 drug-related deaths were recorded in the country. A third of those deaths (33%) were in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Board area.