A handful of “community leaders” in Vancouver have donated about $450,000 to help fund the second part of a heroin and drug substitution trial, according to the executive director of the Inner Change Foundation.

Trish Walsh said the first trial, called NAOMI, found ways to personalize drug addiction treatment. Results were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“There’s been virtually no innovation in the treatment of addiction in 30 years,” Trish said.

“With cancer and heart disease we’ve moved from having limited protocols to an integrated client approach.”

The NAOMI trial found that injections of the active ingredient of heroin work far better than oral methadone for keeping addicts in treatment, away from illegal drugs and away from crime.

In addition, Walsh said, it cost $7,500 for each participant in NAOMI, compared to the $55,000 per year untreated addicts cost society.

The results led the Canadian Institute for Health Research to commit to funding a second trial, to be called SALOME, if researchers matched that $1-million investment using private money.

At the end of May, 22 potential donors were invited to hear a presentation from the researchers and about six made donations ranging from $45,000 to $150,000, Walsh said. She did not name the donors.

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