Fentanyl overdoses rise, emergency reporting takes effect

B.C. averaging 60 overdose cases a month, half involving fentanyl that users likely don't know they are taking

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake

Drug overdose cases continue at high levels as an emergency order to report them immediately takes effect for hospitals, paramedics, police and firefighters across B.C.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Thursday there were 56 overdose cases reported in April, and the province has seen an average of 60 a month since January. Half of those cases are related to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid increasingly showing up in street drugs.

“People don’t know they’re taking it, and it’s 100 times more powerful than other opioids,” Lake said. “They think they’re taking oxycontin or something like that, and it’s fentanyl, and there are tragic consequences.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall sent out B.C.’s first-ever public health emergency order this week to emergency wards and first responders. Real-time reports of clusters of overdoses are to allow local public warnings and deployment of naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdoses.

Lake said the real-time information has been shown to work.

“In Kamloops a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be able to collect data from the emergency department, and we had about seven treated overdoses in 24 hours,” he said. “We were able to get that word out quickly, and in that case I think we were able to avoid deaths.”

Fentanyl has been traced to illicit drug labs in China. Considered 100 times more potent than heroin and other opioids, its strength makes it easy to smuggle and to reach dangerous levels when mixed with other drugs.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Quesnel Film Club’s next screening is award-winning Antigone

The Québécois film will be shown Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Carib Theatre

PHOTOS: Roos go 1-1 over the weekend

Roos dominated the River Kings 8-3 on Saturday and lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Rampage on Sunday

Ulkatcho, Lhoosk’uz Dené sign agreements in support of Blackwater Mine project

Agreements commit to share portion of provincial mineral tax revenue collected from planned mine

B.C. Premier calls Quesnel a ‘hub of innovation’ in face of forestry downturn

Premier John Horgan tours Forestry Innovation Centre and meets with mayor, community representatives

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Jagmeet Singh says NDP caucus will discuss whether to support new NAFTA

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said steps to ratify the new NAFTA are top of mind

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Most Read