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Vancouver calls for more fentanyl test strips amid overdose crisis

Six people died of drug overdose last week in Vancouver, according to the city

This test strip checks drugs for fentanyl.

Wanyee Li/Metro

This test strip checks drugs for fentanyl.

As the number of overdose deaths continue to rise in Vancouver, the city announced it wants to see more fentanyl test strips made available to drug users.

The strips test for the presence of fentanyl and a nine-month pilot project at Insite found users who knew their drugs contained fentanyl were more likely to decrease their dose and therefore less likely to overdose. It’s an approach that could save more lives, said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“Our residents are literally dying waiting for both treatment options that will get them off dangerous street drugs and save their lives, and immediate interventions like expanded drug testing that reduce overdoses,” he said in a press release.

The mayor is calling on the next provincial government to increase funding for addiction treatments and interventions.

“Whether the next provincial government is comprised of BC Liberal, NDP or Green party members, our province urgently needs a government that will dramatically expand treatment and prevention to immediately save lives and connect people with the medical supports they need,” said Robertson.

Fentanyl checks will continue to be available at Insite, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

Six Vancouverites died from drug overdoses last week, bringing the total to a record 154 deaths so far in 2017, according to the city.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services responded to 109 overdose calls. 

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