‘An exceptionally high toll’ Fentanyl, overdoses claim 488 in BC

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Despite a slight drop in the number of
overdoses in British Columbia last month,
the province’s chief coroner is warning
against complacency in tackling the fentanyl
epidemic.
“There is little good news to share,” Lisa
Lapointe told a news conference held to
announce the latest statistics on the toll of
the opioid epidemic.
According to the latest figures, there were
488 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in
B.C. from January to August 2016.
That compares to a total of 505 overdose
deaths in all of 2015.
Lapointe said the tests to determine how
many opioid deaths are related to fentanyl
take longer to complete, but all indications
are that the drug is still taking lives at an
unprecedented rate.
“We still see fentanyl taking an
exceptionally high toll,” she said.
The most common combination in drug
fatalities is cocaine and fentanyl, meaning
many victims are not even aware that they
are taking the drug that kills them. Very few
deaths are due to fentanyl alone.
But there is a glimmer of hope the
epidemic may be slowing.
There were 49 illicit drug overdose deaths
in August, as opposed to 55 the month
before. By far, the highest number of deaths
came in January when 81 people died.
Lapointe credited the slowing pace of
overdoses to a decision to de-schedule
naloxone, a drug which provides an antidote
to an overdose.

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