11/26/2014 08:00 EST | Updated 01/26/2015 05:59 EST

Prescription heroin offered in Vancouver outside of a clinical trial

Vancouver has become the first city in North America to offer prescription heroin to addicts outside of a clinical trial.

For more than a year, doctors at Providence Health Care have been battling with Canada's Health Minister Rona Ambrose over the right to continue prescribing heroin to patients who had cycled out of a clinical research trial.

In May, they won an injunction at B.C. Supreme Court, allowing them to receive prescription heroin through Health Canada and supply the drug to 120 of the severely addicted people who were previously part of the trial.

Scott MacDonald, who was part of the trial and runs the Providence Crosstown Clinic, is one of the doctors who has been advocating the benefits of prescription heroin. He spoke to Stephen Quinn for CBC Radio's On The Coast.

"It is very dangerous and life destroying to have to ingest in an alley, to use illicit heroin three, four times a day. That destroys lives. This is an alternative", he said.

He said that methadone is not an alternative for all people. "This is one option and we need it here in Vancouver."

"I believe that my patients should have access to it and to block that is discriminatory and is based on stigma", he said about the federal government's ideology against giving drugs to addicts.