Aberdeen councillors are to debate if the city should allow drug addicts to be prescribed heroin on the NHS.
The authority's Social Work Convener wants to introduce a pilot scheme which would see Aberdeen become the first city in Scotland to establish a specialist clinic to treat addicts.
The move would allow them to inject a pure form of the drug - diamorphine.
There are estimated to be around 3,000 hard drug users in Aberdeen, with up to 1,800 currently being treated with the heroin substitute methadone. The radical new proposals to tackle the problem effectively mean prescribing the drug on the NHS.
Councillor Jim Kiddie was impressed by results from a similar trial carried out in England.
He said: "There’s been a good success rate in weaning people directly off heroin and it’s also been recently successful in other European countries such as Portugal so I think we should be looking further than Stonehaven and see what we can learn from elsewhere and get a pilot scheme up and running in the city."
Mr Kiddie says a fresh approach is needed due to the low success rate of methadone which he says is used merely as a "controlled drug".
He added: "It may be controversial but if it’s successful then there’s a justification. It is a drug, but then the NHS prescribes many drugs. Methadone is a drug and some doctors would say its side-effects and dangers are just as great as heroin."
Aberdeen chemist Stuart Notman dispenses methadone to the city's addicts on a daily basis and doubts whether the new proposal would work.
He said: "The results of the trial in England have not yet been released so we can’t draw any conclusions from that. The results from studies abroad show this has a place in treatment but the place it holds is for a very, very, very limited number of patients who are at the extreme end of addiction."
Mr Notman believes the cost of setting up such a programme would be prohibitive.
He added: "I think people would legitimately ask, is that kind of revenue being best spent if we plough it into a very small number of patients when that money could be spent elsewhere in the NHS."
He also added that the successful programmes abroad were not down to the prescribed drug itself but rather as a bundle along with "a raft" of other treatments.
"Who’s to say it isn’t these other treatments, rather than the drug itself that are having the major effects," he added.
The issue of a heroin clinic pilot will be debated at Aberdeen City Council next week.