Emergency crews respond to an overdose call. (Photo: File photo)

33 people died of overdose in Surrey in first three months of 2019

Carfentanil, an opioid more toxic than illicit fentanyl, on the rise in B.C.: Coroner

Thirty-three people died of illicit drug overdose in Surrey in the first three months of the year, according to new BC Coroners Service data released May 15.

Province-wide, Surrey’s overdose death rate remains second only to Vancouver so far this year, which saw 72 overdose deaths in the first three months of 2019.

In 2018, 1,514 people in B.C. died of drug overdose, including 389 from Vancouver and 212 in Surrey.

Surrey’s overdose death toll rose from 117 deaths in 2016, 180 deaths in 2017 and 212 in 2018.

READ MORE: Carfentanil, an opioid more toxic than illicit fentanyl, on the rise in B.C.: Coroner

SEE ALSO: Alert issued after 12 overdoses in Surrey in one day

Across B.C., there were 268 fatal overdoses from illicit drugs in the first quarter of the year, and a concerning amount of those deaths involved carfentail – a drug more toxic than fentanyl.

Carfentanil, a powerful opioid used by veterinarians for large animals like elephants, was found in toxicology reports on 64 British Columbians who died between January and March, the BC Coroner Service said Wednesday.

That’s compared to 35 deaths linked to the opioid in all of 2018.

Carfentanil is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl – the illicit street drug that accounts for 80 per cent of the 3,200 overdose deaths that have occurred since 2017.

In March, 104 people fatally overdosed in B.C., or roughly three people per day. That is 34 per cent less than the same period in 2018.

READ ALSO: Surrey Fire Chief says ‘reverse engineering’ fatal OD victims will help tackle crisis

-With files from Ashley Wadhwani

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