VANCOUVER - A death review panel looking into British Columbia's overdose crisis is calling for increased services to check for toxic drugs and an expansion of treatment programs providing substitute drugs and injectable options.

The recommendations are from a 19-month review period when overdose deaths skyrocketed, claiming 1,854 lives.

  • Read the full report on the BC Coroners Service website

The panel included experts in health care, policing, corrections and mental health and addictions, and its recommendations are aimed at several government ministries.

The coroners service says the powerful opioid fentanyl has been responsible for most of the deaths.

The death panel's chairman Michael Egilson says two thirds of the people who died during the review period had a history of being incarcerated.

The coroners service says February's fatal overdose statistics show 102 people died of suspected illicit-drug overdoses, a decrease of 16 per cent from the same month last year.