Carfentanil causing huge spike in deaths: FHA

A drug 100 times more lethal than fentanyl, is killing addicts in the Fraser Health region.

Carfentanil has made it into the Surrey area and is killing heroin users rapidly.

Fraser Health now believes a huge spike in overdose deaths last month could be due to a drug 100 times more lethal than fentanyl.

Fraser Health Authority’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr.Victoria Lee, told The Leader Monday she believes carfentanil, a tranquilizer 100 times more potent than fentanyl, has been killing addicts at an extremely rapid rate.

“Carfentanil, of course, is shown to be circulating in Vancouver,” Lee said. “I have also had within Fraser Health Region some confirmations around that.”

The B.C. Coroners Office is reporting that there were 128 overdose deaths in November, more than doubling the provincial average per month since 2015, which is 55.

The isolation of drug users, and the likely introduction of even more lethal synthetic opioids into the street drug supply, are cited as causes. It brings the total deaths in B.C. to 755 for the year, up 70 per cent from last year, with little relief in sight for December.

Lee believes that now even addicts who are street wise to fentanyl are getting killed by the carfentanil.

“The level of spike and the surge that we saw in November is likely due to carfentanil circulating more broadly,” Lee said. “Something unusual happened in November.”

She said part of that spike could be due to people coming out of the cold.

Surrey now has two safe consumption sites in place, however overdoses have skyrocketed in this region as a cold snap took hold.

“We are seeing people die with a naloxone kit open beside then, and they haven’t had time to use it,” said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s Chief Coroner, referring to the overdose treatment that has been made widely available.

By the end of December, the B.C. government expects to have 18 “overdose prevention sites” open in high-risk areas, including Surrey, Victoria, Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford and Vancouver.

Surrey’s sites are near the Front Room Drop-In Centre in the 10600-block of 135A Street and at Quibble Creek Sobering Centre, at 13670 94A Avenue.

Health Minister Terry Lake issued an emergency order Dec. 9 to open the new supervised sites without permission from the federal government.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall pleaded with affected communities to stop their protests against overdose prevention sites. The supervised sites will save lives “and what they will not do is bring problems into communities” because the drugs and users are already there, Kendall said.

Clayton Pecknold, B.C.’s director of police services, said he is encouraged by the latest federal government efforts to intercept synthetic drugs coming from China by mail. But there are still federal drug enforcement positions vacant, he said.

The potent synthetic drug fentanyl has been detected in about half of overdose cases, and even more powerful derivatives may be coming into B.C.

Dave Leary, spokesperson for the union representing B.C. paramedics, said Monday he’s seen a tremendous spike in the Whalley area, but also an increase in overdoses in the Guildford and Newton areas.

Most heartbreaking of all, he said, is seeing the same patient several times a day.

This issue isn’t just about addicts, he said, because everyone is facing increased wait times for paramedics and other health care workers.

“It’s really taking a toll,” Leary said. “This isn’t just about the homeless and addicts… this is about patients in general, waiting. It could be your grandmother who’s having a stroke, your dad who’s having a heart attack… the wait times are there.”

Leary doesn’t see a way out of this until more treatment options are made available those looking to get off drugs.

In a statement, provincial officials said 300 drug treatment beds have been opened and another 100 coming in the next month and the goal of 500 reached by the end of March.

Kendall said there is too much emphasis on treatment beds, when what is needed is a “continuum of services” to keep drug addicts from relapsing and move them to alternatives such as methadone.

with files from Tom Fletcher

 

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read