Access to heroin-assisted treatment

People who are struggling with addiction should have access to all proven, evidence-based forms of addiction treatment. For individuals experiencing chronic and serious opiate addictions, this includes heroin-assisted treatment (HAT), which has been proven to improve health outcomes in ways that other traditional addiction treatments have not. In 2013, the federal government put in place a regulation prohibiting access to this life-saving medicine. In response, Pivot initiated litigation on behalf of five patients who took part in the Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME), which tested alternative treatments for people with chronic heroin addiction, including HAT, who are not benefiting sufficiently from available treatments such as oral methadone. We argued that government regulations preventing the ongoing delivery of life-saving treatment to these vulnerable addictions patients was a violation of their Charter rights. Pivot won a court injunction protecting our clients’ access (and that of the 202 other research participants) to HAT while waiting for the case to go to trial.  In September 2016, rather than defend their unconstitutional regulation in court, the federal government repealed the offending regulation. This was a major victory for our clients, who achieved the change they sought with their lawsuit.