Consultation: Removing undue barriers to diacetylmorphine (heroin)-assisted treatment

From Health Canada

Current status: Closed.

Thank you for your interest.

This consultation ran from November 11, 2017 to January 9, 2018.

You are invited to comment on our proposal to remove undue regulatory restrictions specific to diacetylmorphine (heroin) in the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).


In light of the opioid crisis in Canada, Health Canada is committed to supporting better treatment options; by facilitating access to treatments for opioid use disorder.

Unlike other opioids, diacetylmorphine (heroin) is subject to additional regulatory controls under the NCR. These controls limit its administration to hospital settings only.

The NCR only authorize licensed dealers to sell or provide diacetylmorphine (heroin) to a pharmacist if they are:

  • a hospital employee, or
  • are exempted under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with respect to its possession.

The NCR prohibit practitioners of medicine or dentistry from:

  • prescribing diacetylmorphine (heroin) and
  • administering it unless the person is an in-patient or out-patient of a hospital.

These regulatory constraints pose undue barriers to access to diacetylmorphine-assisted treatment. For example, patients may have to go to a hospital, possibly several times per day, to receive their treatment.

Evidence shows that barriers to accessing treatment can deter patients from seeking help. Providing quick, non-judgmental services where they are most needed is one key to success.

The proposed changes would increase opportunities for diacetylmorphine (heroin)-assisted treatment as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes related services such as primary health care and counselling. It is important to note that diacetylmorphine would continue to be subject to controls set out in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


We are seeking feedback on the proposed amendments to the regulations from:

  • Patients and caregivers
  • Patient groups and associations
  • Parents and community members who are concerned about problematic use of opioids
  • Health care providers and their associations
  • Canadian provincial and territorial governments


A Notice to Interested Parties was published in Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 11, 2017. We encourage you to read the Notice and send us your comments about it.

How to participate

The consultation will be open for 60 days, between November 11, 2017 and January 9, 2018.

Send us your comments within the time given, by:

Related information

Contact us

Health Canada
Office of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
Address Locator: 0302A
150 Tunney's Pasture Driveway, Main Stats Building
Ottawa ON K1A 0K9


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