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October 6, 1978

A legislative look at heroin and medicine

JAMA. 1978;240(15):1570-1571. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290150016003

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The political and emotional fervor surrounding the question of the medical usage of heroin is growing considerably, though it may not yet rival the laetrile issue.

Even generally conservative medical societies are publically voicing their approval and disapproval of efforts to make heroin medically available in the near future.

The 15,000-member American Society of Internal Medicine has endorsed the idea of making heroin available in specific cases. Last June the American Medical Association's House of Delegates took the opposite position and refused to make such an endorsement because those voting believed that there should be more investigational data first.

The American Cancer Society has more or less straddled the fence. Its Board of Directors made a statement in February that declared in part: "Pain is a major health problem in this country, especially the kind of pain that is sometimes encountered in patients with cancer. According to experts the treatment