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Interior Health issues region-wide warning for dangerous drugs

The health authority says multiple communities have found drugs with high fentanyl concentrations
A take-home test kit for drug users is seen here. Interior Health is warning about a potent mix of drugs circulating around its communities. Photo: Vancouver Coastal Health

Interior Health has issued a region-wide alert for drugs that have been found containing up to 55 per cent fentanyl and up to 25 per cent benzodiazepine.

The health authority said in a statement on Wednesday, that multiple drug samples tested in communities across the region prompted the warning, a rare move for Interior Health which doesn’t often issue region-wide alerts.

The concentrations of fentanyl and benzodiazepine, or benzos, are far higher than what is typically found in the illicit drug supply. Usually, samples include approximately 10 per cent for fentanyl and around one or two per cent for benzos.

The high amount of benzos in the drugs found is also notable because they don’t respond to naloxone, which can be used to resuscitate a person who is suffering an opioid overdose.

Interior Health said the drugs are being sold as heroin, fentanyl and down, and come in a range of colours and textures.

The alert is effective until Feb. 26.

British Columbia had a record 2,224 deaths caused by the toxic drug supply in 2021. Of those, 371 fatalities occurred in Interior Health.

According to the BC Coroners Service, a total of 8,926 deaths have been caused by the crisis since it began in 2016 through to the end of 2021.


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About the Author: Nelson Star Staff

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