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In the Eye of the Needle: Diary of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

BMJ 2004; 330 doi: (Published 30 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;330:48
  1. Melissa Sweet, freelance journalist specialising in health and medicine (
  1. Australia

    Early one Sunday evening in May 2001, a young Sydney labourer strolled through a nondescript shop-front in the sleazy heart of Sydney's Kings Cross, and made medical history. The 19 year old man became the first client of the New South Wales government funded Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, which had quietly opened its doors for the first time about an hour earlier. It had done this without fanfare, hoping to avoid media harassment of clients. Newspaperphotographers who had staked out the premises from a hotel opposite for the previous fortnight were oblivious, apparently because of a rugby league match on television.

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    Ingrid van Beek

    Allen and Unwin,


    pp 240

    ISBN 1741143810

    www.allenandunwin.comAlso available as an ebook, $A20.95 (

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    The centre, a first for the English speaking world, had a long and painful gestation involving protracted legal and political battles. Opponents ranged from the Vatican to a local business organisation and the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board.

    Some of the highs and lows of its first 30 months …

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