Germany’s parliament has voted to allow the prescription of heroin to long-term users who fail to respond to other treatments. Approved by the lower house Bundestag by 349 votes to 198, the measure only applies to people aged 23 or over. They must have been addicted for at least five years and have undergone two unsuccessful rehabilitation programmes to be eligible for the scheme.
Supporters say controlled prescription of heroin helps addicts who have failed to respond to the usual treatments. However, opponents fear it will lead to an increase in use. The German move to give heroin over the counter mirrors neighbouring Switzerland, which has been credited for reducing drug-related crime and improving addicts’ health.