The Special Access Program that launched last week, allowing Canadians to potentially access restricted drugs on a case-by-case basis , is a reworking of past policy, rather than something new.

The program was amended in 2013, under former Health Minister Rona Ambrose, after she learned Health Canada had approved an application to allow 21 patients with long-term addictions access to prescription heroin. The patients had previously been involved in a clinical trial comparing hydromorphone to diacetylmorphine , heroin’s active ingredient.

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