News / Vancouver

Fentanyl detected in growing number of overdose deaths in B.C.

Just over 1,200 British Columbians died between January and October this year due to opioid overdoses compared to 683 during the same period in 2016.

A test strips used to check for presence of illicit fentanyl in such drugs as heroin, crystal meth and cocaine in this undated handout images provided by Vancouver Coastal Health.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

A test strips used to check for presence of illicit fentanyl in such drugs as heroin, crystal meth and cocaine in this undated handout images provided by Vancouver Coastal Health.

Overdose deaths continue to be nearly double what they were last year, with the latest numbers from the BC Coroners Service showing 1,208 British Columbians died between January and October this year.
 
That compares to 683 deaths due to opioid overdoses for the same period in 2016.
 
There were 96 deaths in October, compared to 85 in September. Those numbers are down from a high of 140 in January, but the numbers continue to track a “new normal” of elevated deaths due to overdose first seen in December of 2016.
 
Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is added to many illicit drugs and is the main factor behind the increased death rate, has been detected in more of the recent overdoses. In 2016, fentanyl was detected in 68 per cent of deaths due to overdose. From January to October 2017, fentanyl has been detected in 83 per cent of deaths.
 
Last week, the City of Vancouver reported that firefighters have responded to 6,000 overdose calls this year, a 28 per cent increase from last year. The B.C. government also recently announced a new Overdose Emergency Response Centre to be located at Vancouver General Hospital.

Data for 2017 is up to October 31.

BC Coroners Service

Data for 2017 is up to October 31.

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