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Int J Drug Policy. 2011 Mar;22(2):172-3. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2010.12.001. Epub 2011 Jan 15.

Use of gelatine capsules for application of methamphetamine: a new harm reduction approach.

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The National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic.



In order to reduce injecting drug use, low-threshold facilities in the Czech Republic have started to distribute empty gelatine capsules as an oral alternative of drug application for those injecting methamphetamine. This report reviews implementation of this intervention and its possible benefits and limitations.


Between December 2008 and January 2009, 109 low-threshold facilities were asked to complete a questionnaire about the capsule programmes. Two focus groups were conducted, one with professionals involved in distribution and one with peer outreach workers who were interviewed on their experience of using the capsules.


A total of 50 facilities (46%) responded to the questionnaire; 16 (32%) distributed the capsules regularly and 19 (38%) were planning to introduce this practice. The main target groups were injecting users of methamphetamine whose veins had been damaged, and methamphetamine users wishing to reduce injecting. The advantages of capsules, as perceived by service staff and peer outreach workers, were their easy use and the satisfactory effect of the oral application; health risks related to the oral use of methamphetamine were considered drawbacks.


Capsule distribution is a promising harm reduction approach for injectors of methamphetamine or other stimulants; nonetheless its benefits and limitations should be further analysed in an in-depth longitudinal study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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