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Killer Drugs on New Zealand Streets

Killer Drugs on New Zealand Streets

The National Society of Opioid Treatment Providers (NAOTP) says substitution treatment has been proven to save lives and reduce levels of crime.

This comment is made in response to a 20/20 programme on the tragic case of two under-18-year-old boys who died after taking methadone prescribed to treat opioid addicts.

Eileen Varley, Chairperson of the NAOTP, says this tragedy needs to be balanced by the benefits of substitution treatment.

“A number of government agencies could have prevented these deaths,” she says.

“The most efficient way to improve the safety of these programmes would be for treatment programmes to be allowed to substitute safer drugs than methadone. These drugs are available and widely used in other countries and they don’t have the abuse potential of methadone.”

Eileen Varley says the only barrier to their use is that despite lobbying by NAOTP, PHARMAC has consistently refused to fund these medications.

NAOTP says in the story featured last night alcohol was also involved in both these deaths, that both victims were underage, and that in both cases the alcohol was consumed under the supervision of either the victims’ parents or parents of the victims friends.

Eileen Varley says alcohol remains the drug that kills most people in New Zealand.

“Politicians who are currently debating the reform of the sale of liquor legislation could make society safer for everyone including young people by implementing well established public health strategies such as increasing alcohol prices, reducing its availability and restricting advertising. These suggestions were put to government by the Law Commission last year but have so far been rejected by government,” she says.


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