La evidencia de otros países indica su potencial para reducir muertes por sobredosis y los costos sociales del uso ilícito. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

By Lucy Faber

Norway will offer free heroin prescriptions through a heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) programme by 2020 in an attempt to improve the living conditions of people dependent on the drug. The Norwegian scheme sets out to provide the drug to up to 400 people, although details on quantities are unclear while authorities formulate specific plans. Health professionals will also be on-hand when the heroin is administered so that they can intervene should an overdose occur.

Prescribing and administering heroin in a safe environment will allow people to avoid illegal heroin which may have been cut with potentially harmful substances, including the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Norway's Health minister Bent Høie said “we hope that this will provide a solution that will give … a better quality of life to some [people dependent on heroin] … who are today out of our reach and whom current programs do not help enough”.

Norway currently has one of the highest drug-induced mortality rates among adults in Europe, 81.23 deaths per million in 2015, compared to the European average of 21.8 deaths per million.

Elsewhere in Europe, HAT (Heroin-assisted treatment programme) has been an important part of drug treatment for many years. Such schemes are already offered – albeit restrictively in some cases – in Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. Evidence from some of these jurisdictions indicates that effectively-implemented HAT can reduce overdose mortality rates, as well as reduce the societal costs of drug harms and the illegal heroin trade.