80 per cent of drugs checked at Insite contain fentanyl
Supplies to be used by drug addicts fill baskets as nurse Arvita Cotter prepares for a shift at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday April 18, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 15, 2017 9:37AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, May 15, 2017 7:49PM PDT
A pilot project to test street drugs for fentanyl at the Vancouver safe injection centre Insite has found that about 80 per cent were laced with the potentially deadly opioid.
Testing of more than 1,000 drug samples over a nine-month period found more than 80 per cent of the heroin and crystal meth brought in by clients and about 40 per cent of the cocaine contained illicit fentanyl.
Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, says the drug checks resulted in clients reducing their dose and decreasing their risk of overdose.
Lysyshyn was to present the findings today at the 25th Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal.
He says more testing of street drugs could save lives and help alleviate the public health emergency in Canada around opioid consumption and overdose.
Fentanyl is 100 times more toxic than morphine and a dose the size of a grain or two of sand can result in a fatal overdose. In British Columbia, more than 900 people died of apparent illicit drug overdoses in 2016, with about 60 per cent of the deaths linked to fentanyl.