French addicts obtain methadone in Belgium
18 August 2005, BRUSSELS — Belgian doctors in the border region between Kortrijk and Bergen are treating French heroin addicts who are requesting methadone prescriptions.
18 August 2005
BRUSSELS — Belgian doctors in the border region between Kortrijk and Bergen are treating French heroin addicts who are requesting methadone prescriptions.
The doctors are often breaching their legally allowed number of 150 methadone patients, Belgian newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Thursday.
The use of methadone has been legally regulated in Belgium since April 2004. Doctors may prescribe the drug and pharmacists are allowed to sell it.
However, some 2,000 French addicts are regularly crossing the border to obtain methadone.
The figure was supplied by Yves Ledoux, who is drawing up a registration system of methadone users for the Belgian Institute of Pharmaco Epidemiology (IFEB).
"Since 1996, family doctors in France are not allowed to prescribe methadone. Only specialised centres can distribute it," Ledoux said.
"Those who need methadone have to go to the centre on a daily basis. Those who have a job, can't. Especially those people come to Belgium."
Problems have already been detected, with one Belgian doctor holding 'consultations' at a train station restaurant in Lille (France), while another supplied methadone to a youth, who later died.
"Doctors often get into problems unintentionally due to the enormous demand exceeding the permitted number of 150 methadone patients," Ledoux said.
In Belgium, there are 20,000 methadone users. It is estimated that 10,000 regularly obtain methadone and 10,000 obtain the drug sporadically.
When the registration system is put into place at the end of this year, a proposal from Liège university doctor Jean Reggers to supply heroin to addicts will be further examined.
The project is designed to prevent addicts contracting AIDS by swapping each others' needles. The Federal Health Ministry is studying the proposal.
Trials of a similar system in the Netherlands have led to a decline in drug-related crimes of theft and led to improved health among addicts prescribed with heroin.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian + French news