Jarred Aasen, a pharmacist at the STS Pain Pharmacy in Victoria, demonstrates how he tests drug samples for fentanyl. Most recently, the pharmacy has detected the presence of fentanyl in more hard drugs such as MDMA, cocaine and crystal meth. Victoria News file photo

More fentanyl being found in MDMA, crystal meth in Victoria

Downtown pharmacy testing street drugs for fentanyl free for users

When Victoria pharmacist Alain Vincent began testing local street drugs for the presence of fentanyl, he knew it would be found in heroin.

He was surprised to find the oft-deadly additive present in other drugs that users have brought in for free analysis by pharmacists at STS Pain Pharmacy, however, and is concerned about the trend.

Recent test results indicate that fentanyl is increasingly being found in MDMA, cocaine and crystal meth. Of the samples submitted of late, Vincent said fentanyl has been found a dozen or so times in MDMA and seven in cocaine and crystal meth.

“MDMA was the biggest shocker. We didn’t expect to test (it) at all,” said Vincent, the lead pharmacist at the Cormorant Street pharmacy.

“The MDMA user isn’t the profile of a traditional drug addict; usually it’s kids using it at concerts and clubs. Somebody who only uses MDMA every other weekend and is exposed to fentanyl might not have the same tolerance as someone who uses drugs daily. Even a trace amount could have an affect in the long-term.”

Earlier this year, Vincent and his team began offering free testing of drug samples for fentanyl. He cautions that the results should be taken with a grain of salt, as the test doesn’t tell the user how much fentanyl is found, only that it’s present.

In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of people testing their drugs before ingesting them, with many casual or recreational users going to the pharmacy on weekends.

Despite an increased awareness of fentanyl, the number of overdose deaths has continued to climb across the province. In April, there were 136 suspected overdose deaths, up more than 97 per cent over last year’s April total.

Greater Victoria has recorded 37 illicit drug overdose deaths in 2017, third most in B.C. behind Surrey and Vancouver.

Vincent believes the frequency in which fentanyl is being found illustrates a new trend in Victoria’s drug culture. Since fentanyl can be ordered online and in small quantities, anyone can become a drug dealer.

“You have a total switch in the market where drug dealers were people who had connections and could order big quantities, but not anymore. People can order very small quantities and mix their own batch and create their own business,” he said. “There are too many people in the business and the drug is difficult to mix, which is why it’s so concerning.”

Fentanyl is 20 times more potent than OxyContin, an opioid also used a pain reliever. Even one dose of fentanyl can be fatal.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Health Canada suspends Island pot producer’s licence following unannounced visit

Evergreen Medicinal Supply is working on “corrective action”

Victoria student out $600 for lack of e-bike insurance blames confusing rules

B.C. regulation says e-bike motors must turn off if rider stops pedalling, or bike must be insured

Saanich police ask for public’s help locating missing high risk youth

The 12-year-old was last seen before school on Monday morning

Flat tire, kindness of strangers, surprisingly inflate hope

Sooke mom and her daughters knocked on door of Bob and Norma Saunders seeking help

Ogden Point officially rebranded as The Breakwater District

New signage and logos accompany plans for the area’s future

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read