Fentanyl seized at a recent bust by the Ridge Meadows RCMP. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Fentanyl-linked overdose deaths soar in B.C.

The opioid was the cause of 81 per cent of the 876 deaths so far this year in the province

Fentanyl has caused more than 80 per cent of drug overdose deaths in B.C. in the first seven months of 2017.

The illicit drug was detected in 706 of the 876 deaths so far this year, a new report from BC Coroners Service released Thursday says. That’s already higher than the the percentage of deaths caused by fentanyl for all of last year – 67 per cent.

In most cases, fentanyl was combined with other drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

The increase comes despite efforts by police and government officials to gain a hold of the opioid crisis since the continuing increase of deaths was declared a state of emergency in 2016.

READ MORE: Looking at one year since B.C. declared opioid deaths a public health crisis

In November, the RCMP signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s public security ministry to work together to fight the illegal trafficking of fentanyl into Canada.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

Police in Vancouver – the city seeing the lion’s share of 379 fentanyl-linked deaths – say they now expect to find fentanyl in drug raids.

Health officials have opened more than 100 overdose prevention sites across B.C., targeting cities seeing the highest number of overdoses including Surrey and Victoria.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall have both called on the support from the federal government for prescription heroin as an option for treatment.

READ MORE: Physiotherapy could help combat B.C.’s opioid crisis: report

Meanwhile, carfentanil – an opioid that’s 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants – was detected in 13 drug overdose deaths in June and July, the report says.

July the first month of 2017 with less than 100 overdose deaths

July saw the first substantial decrease in overdose deaths this year, acting as a bit of relief in the ongoing overdose crisis.

Ninety-one people died from drug overdoses in July. That’s five deaths every two days, compared to seven in the previous six months of the year.

Despite the decrease, the majority of deaths are still occurring indoors and hitting men aged 30 to 39 the hardest, the report shows.

In a statement, Lapointe reiterated that drug users are at high risk of overdosing when they use alone and aren’t able to get help, which has been the case in most of the fatalities.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Science fair draws best junior scientists from Vancouver Island to Victoria

200 young science enthusiasts share their inventions and discoveries at UVic

Vic. Symphony, Jeans ‘n Classics will rock you with the Best of Queen

Post-Bohemian Rhapsody, Pops Series concerts bring British band’s music back into spotlight

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Farm Whisperer tackles tough subject of farm succession

Linda Geggie is executive director with CR-FAIR

New Coast Guard ship crashes into Ogden Point breakwater

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

Young cyclist struck near Galloping Goose Trail

Minor injuries reported by police

VIDEO: Keeping the hope alive, 28 years later

Annual Michael Dunahee Keep the Hope Alive run raised money for Child Find B.C.

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says future assembly deliberations won’t be closed to public

Reversal comes after Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff raised concerns

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Most Read