Monday, October 17, 2016

555 die from drug overdoses in B.C. over nine months

The B.C. Coroners Service said there have been 555 illicit drug deaths from January to the end of September this year, compared with 508 deaths for 2015.

Fentanyl remains the major contributor to the high number of deaths, with the opioid detected in over 60 per cent of the deaths. The coroners service said fentanyl was detected in 30 per cent of illicit drug deaths last year.

The alarming number of drug overdose deaths prompted B.C.’s chief health officer to declare a public health emergency in April. The declaration, typically reserved for contagious diseases, is the first in Canada.

The move is aimed at quickly gathering information on all incidents of drug overdoses. Fatal overdoses have steadily increased in B.C. since 2010, when 211 people died.

Authorities are concerned by the amount of naloxone necessary to save a life ― particularly if fentanyl is involved. In some cases three to four times a normal dose is required. Countering the effects of carfentanil is a complete unknown.
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