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Heroin prescription programme narrowly approved

The Swiss electorate narrowly voted in favor of continuing a programme under which a limited number of heroin addicts can get heroin under medical supervision.

This content was published on June 13, 1999 - 17:03

The Swiss electorate narrowly voted in favor of continuing a programme under which a limited number of heroin addicts can get heroin under medical supervision.

Under the federal therapy programme, the state supplies heroin to about 1,500 addicts who have repeatedly failed in their efforts to become free of drugs or switch to less damaging substitutes.

Two years ago, voters already approved the heroin distribution but opponents forced a vote on the issue.

A pilot programme carried out between 1994 and 1996 was considered successful: it reduced crime and misery associated with drug addiction and had a beneficial effect when used as part of an overall therapy aimed at returning addicts to a life without drugs.

Critics argued that taxpayer money was used to finance a heroin programme which did not heal an addict but merely prolong drug addiction.

The heroin distribution programme is considered the first such national project in the world.

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