Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Heroin abundant, diamorphine scarce

Two leading members of the British Medical Association went public yesterday with the suggestion that Afghan poppy fields be used to make diamorphine, the potent painkiller used in surgery and with the terminally ill. While the streets of Europe and increasingly the U.S. show a plentiful supply of illegal Afghan heroin, over the past year a serious shortage of the legitimate medication has developed.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care with the BMA, said: "Over the past year the availability of diamorphine has dramatically reduced. It has got to the stage where it is almost impossible in some hospitals to get hold of this drug for use outside very specific circumstances."

Unnamed authorities quoted by The Independent (London) claim that harvesting Afghan opium for legitimate medical uses would be impractical. Source. The most likely reason it would be impractical is that the opium fields are in the hands of the warlords who run the Kabul government under the protection of NATO forces. Heroin is much more lucrative than diamorphine.

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