Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street
Heroin Assisted Treatment: Saving lives during the overdose death crisis
FREE, everyone welcome!
When: Mon, March 27, 2017. 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM.
Where: Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings St.
Additional Info: Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, SNAP, Pivot Legal Society.
In 2016 there were a total of 922 overdose deaths in British Columbia. The province is experiencing the worst opioid overdose crisis in its history. Due to the unprecedented number of overdose deaths in the province in April 2016 a public health emergency was announced by the BC Provincial Health Officer.
How did we get here? How can we prevent more deaths?
This panel will provide a unique opportunity to learn about the benefits of heroin-assisted treatment (HAT), one viable option to reduce opioid overdose deaths. Not one HAT patient has died of an overdose death in Canada and Europe.
Donald MacPherson, Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition will moderate the event. Presenter Dr. Susan Boyd will briefly discuss how heroin (diacetylmorphine) has been defined and framed differently over time, from a legitimate medicine to a demonized and dangerous drug. Doug King will highlight the constitutional challenge for HAT launched in 2013 by Pivot Legal Society, Providence Health Care and five plaintiffs, following the federal governments decision to prohibit the prescription of heroin to people who benefited from the treatment. Dr. Scott MacDonald, the physician lead at the Providence Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside which was the site of two HAT clinical trials: NAOMI and SALOME, will discuss his work and the benefits of supervising injectable opioid assisted substitution treatment (siOAT) at the clinic. Dave Murray and SNAP members will provide further context, as people who are currently receiving HAT at Crosstown Clinic. SNAP advocates for the end of drug prohibition and for permanent flexible HAT programs and the reclassification of diacetylmorphine, so that physicians in Canada can more easily prescribe it.
Internationally, HAT continues to be advocated for long-term opioid users who have not benefitted from conventional treatments in numerous countries, including the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. Crosstown is still the only clinic in North America to provide injectable diacetylmorphine or prescription heroin, even though research findings on HAT programs and clinical trials demonstrate the feasibility, efficacy, safety and effectiveness of HAT. The panellists will also explore avenues for change in drug policy and practice.
Donald MacPherson is the Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and one of Canada’s leading figures in drug policy at the local, national and international level. He advocates policies based on principles of public health, human rights, social inclusion, and scientific evidence and moving away from a criminal justice paradigm where people with health problems are criminalized. Donald worked for the City of Vancouver for 22 years, first as Director of the Carnegie Community Centre in the Downtown Eastside and the last 12 as Drug Policy Coordinator for the City. In 2000 he published Vancouver’s groundbreaking Four Pillars Drug Strategy that precipitated a broad public discussion on issues related to addiction. Donald is also co-author of Raise Shit!: Social action saving lives and More Harm than Good: Drug policy in Canada.
Susan Boyd is Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria. She is the author of a number of articles and books on drug issues. Her most recent books are: From Witches to Crack Moms: Women drug law, and policy; Hooked: Drug war films in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.; and co-author of Raise Shit!: Social action saving lives; Killer Weed: Marijuana grow-ops, media, and justice; and More harm than good: Drug policy in Canada. She was recently a member of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. She also works with national and community peer-run organizations that advocate for the end of drug prohibition and harm reduction services.
Douglas King entered law school at UBC focused on a career in international human rights. However, as he spent more time in Vancouver (he is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah), Douglas became deeply aware of the complicated human rights and constitutional issues in his own community. Douglas worked as an advocate for the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association before moving over to Pivot Legal Society in 2008. Douglas’ job at Pivot places him at the heart of police and private-security accountability, using civil litigation and the Charter to influence the policies and practices of police departments. He has focused his work on trying to get local governments and police departments to stop using criminal and municipal bylaws to punish behaviour related to drug use, and has worked on Pivot’s application for an injunction which allowed the Crosstown Clinic to continue its heroin assisted therapy programming.
D. Scott MacDonald is the physician lead at the Providence Crosstown Clinic, which was the site of NAOMI and SALOME. He continues to supervise injectable opioid assisted substitution treatment (siOAT) at the clinic. Dr. MacDonald and his team are the first physicians in the world to prescribe hydromorphone for the treatment of substance use disorder. Crosstown is still the only clinic in North America to provide injectable diacetylmorphine or prescription heroin.
Dave Murray and SALOME/NAOMI Association of Patients. Dave is the founder of SNAP (SALOME/NAOMI Association of Patients), formerly the NAOMI Patients Association (NPA). For six years he has facilitated SNAP’s weekly meetings. Dave is also a volunteer at Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and a board member of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, PIVOT Legal Society, and past board member of Pacific Hepatitis C Network and past acting Secretary for the Canadian Association of People who use Drugs.
Photo credit: Eviatar Bach
Find out more about the work of our partners & join the online discussion in SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement Facebook group!