Heroin-assisted Treatment (HAT) a Decade Later: A Brief Update on Science and Politics
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- Fischer, B., Oviedo-Joekes, E., Blanken, P. et al. J Urban Health (2007) 84: 552. doi:10.1007/s11524-007-9198-y
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Since the initial Swiss heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) study conducted in the mid-1990s, several other jurisdictions in Europe and North America have implemented HAT trials. All of these studies embrace the same goal—investigating the utility of medical heroin prescribing for problematic opioid users—yet are distinct in various key details. This paper briefly reviews (initiated or completed) studies and their main parameters, including primary research objectives, design, target populations, outcome measures, current status and—where available—key results. We conclude this overview with some final observations on a decade of intensive HAT research in the jurisdictions examined, including the suggestion that there is a mounting onus on the realm of politics to translate the—largely positive—data from completed HAT science into corresponding policy and programming in order to expand effective treatment options for the high-risk population of illicit opioid users.