Canada is seeing a surge in Fentanyl OD deaths, so much so, that they have called a state of emergency as the death toll rises due to the OD cases involving this drug. Officials in Canada scramble in an attempt to address the rising OD deaths from Fentanyl, which is a drug 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug knows no race, age or social class when taking lives.
According to Med India on April 16, Fentanyl accounted for five percent of the overdose deaths in 2012 and in 2015 that jumped to 31 percent in Canada. So far this year the number is holding last year’s stats, but expected to rise by the end of the year if nothing is put in place to stop these overdoses.
TJC News reports that Canadian officials worry that “at the current rate in 2016, without additional steps to combat overdoses, B.C. could see 600 to 800 overdose deaths this year.” One of the most critical pieces for saving lives right now is the “real time” information on where these overdose deaths are occurring. This would allow the government to set up interventions in the most needed areas.
In an ideal world getting the people to stop taking drugs would be the goal, but you need to pick your battles and that battle is to save lives right now with putting preventative measures in place so people who are taking these drugs don’t die of an overdose. They begin by collecting the “real-time” data of these overdose deaths to find the areas they should target with prevention.
So far the drug Naloxone, which is known mostly under the brand name Narcan in the U.S., is being doled out to police, first responders, pharmacists and the drug users and their families in Canada to instantly reverse the effect of an opiate overdose. Training has been provided to these people on the proper use of the drug that can bring someone back from a drug overdose at a miraculous rate.
The U.S. has seen many lives saved with the first responders having the drug on hand in police cars as well as ambulances. Canada is also looking into opening safe places in the areas riddled with these overdoses where drug users can go and safely administer the drug with a medical professional in attendance.
This is a controversial idea, but again, you have to pick your battles and Canada’s immediate battle is to save lives. The drug users are not going to stop using, so the next best thing is to monitor their intake and offer education, which is apparently the mindset around these safe places proposed.
While fentanyl is prescription drug that is prescribed by doctors for chronic pain, there is so much more of this drug being use than those doled out with legal scripts. Drugs are coming in from other countries and being sold on the streets, like the version of fentanyl being produced in China and the drug is smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico, U.S. investigators believe.
With Canada a neighbor of the U.S., if drugs are getting past the U.S. borders than the same could be happening at the Canadian border. While fighting to keep the drug out of the country and off the street is an on-going war, keeping those who are doing these drugs safe is an immediate goal in Canada.