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

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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Highway 97 two-vehicle crash near 150 Mile House claims one life

The collision closed the highway at 150 Mile House

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty chairs an opioid crisis working group pushing for policies to stop the flow of illicit drugs in Canada. (Victoria Police Department photo)
‘The opioid crisis impacts all of us’: Cariboo Prince Geroge MP Todd Doherty

Todd Doherty is co-chair of Conservative Party caucus opioid crisis working group

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Skating rink welcomed

This lake one will not last long but is still worth it

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: New batteries close to industrial level applications

The good news is the hope that this cost should come down each year

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read