A supervised drug consumption site has opened in Lethbridge, Alta., after the city recorded more than 54 overdoses in recent weeks, some from what police are calling a potent batch of a dangerous street opioid. A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Feds ease restrictions on prescription heroin to address opioid epidemic

The government is making it easier for patients to access prescription heroin and methadone in its fight against the opioid crisis.

The government is making it easier for patients to access prescription heroin and methadone in its fight against the opioid crisis.

Forthcoming legal changes will allow people suffering from opioid-use disorder to access prescribed heroin outside of a hospital setting, such as addiction clinics, making it easier for them to balance their treatment with daily responsibilities.

The government is also making methadone treatment more accessible, allowing health-care practitioners to prescribe and administer the medicine without needing to apply for an exemption from federal law.

Related: How can we change the public discussion on drug addiction?

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says removing barriers to treatment is crucial to combat what her department describes as a national public health crisis that continues to devastate families and communities.

Related: Vancouver Island university develops program to help kids cope with overdose crisis

Health Canada estimates more than 4,000 people died in 2017 as a result of the epidemic.

Last month’s federal budget earmarked $231 million to improve access to treatment, address stigma and gather data on the opioid crisis.

The Canadian Press

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