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Insite Safe Injection Clinic

Canadian Doctors Urge Federal Govt. to Drop Court Challenge against Insite Safe Injection Clinic

An article review of medical research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal states that Vancouver’s Insite safe injection clinic is doing what it is supposed to be doing and that it saves lives and increases access to treatment. Based on this medical evidence, the study authors ask that the federal government abandon a last-ditch Supreme Court challenge attempt to shut the clinic down.

The Insite safe injection clinic has been in operation in Vancouver’s drug plagued lower Eastside since 2003. At the clinic, heroin users inject drugs under a nurse’s supervision, using sterile disposable injection equipment.

Reviews of the Insite clinic have shown that:

  • The clinic reduces the harms to users of heroin use
  • It increases referrals to methadone treatment and detoxification programs
  • It saves millions of healthcare dollars through a reduction in drug overdoses and through a reduction in shared-injection equipment disease transmission
  • It does not lead to relapses among former drug users

Opened in 2003 under a Liberal federal government, the Conservative government which took power in 2005 opposes harm reduction efforts on ideologiocal grounds and has tried repeatedly to have the clinic shut down. Two federal government instigated legal challenges at the provincial level have already failed – leaving the federal government with only a supreme court challenge left to try.

In an interview, review study author Dr. Michael Rachlis of the University of Toronto said, "We're calling on the federal government to drop the current action they have in the Supreme Court and to let local health officials, public and the local police get on and do their jobs in terms of dealing with the addiction problem… As physicians we find this particularly concerning that the federal government appears to be flouting the scientific evidence in this area."



In their article, the authors note that the stance taken by the current government against the Insite clinic is popular with their conservative base, but say that it is a stance taken on ideological and not medical or scientific grounds.


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