A fentanyl check in progress. One red line on top is a positive result for the presence of fentanyl or one of its analogs. Two red lines is a negative result. (Vancouver Coastal Health photo)

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

As British Columbians using drugs alone continues to be one of the biggest cruxes in the ongoing overdose crisis, health officials are hoping take-home drug testing kits will help save lives.

READ MORE: Carfentanil, an opioid more toxic than fentanyl, linked to more deaths in B.C.

Both the Vancouver Coastal Health and Interior Health authorities announced a partnership with the BC Centre for Disease Control this week, which will include piloting take-home kits for users to check their drugs and safely use alone.

Since 2016, 80 per cent of overdose deaths have occurred indoors, according to the BC Coroners Service.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said in a statement that using alone increases risk of death “amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day.”

The kits will be available at overdose prevention sites and safe consumption sites in Vancouver, Kamloops, Cranbrook, Merritt, Nelson, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.

Inside each kit includes five fentanyl test strips with instructions on how to use them. These tests were implemented at all overdose prevention sites in B.C. in late 2017 to combat the illicit drug behind 87 per cent of the 1510 fatal overdoses last year. Since then, more than 500 people monthly test their drugs at the various sites across Vancouver.

READ MORE: B.C. launches new drug-checking program, expands fentanyl testing

BC Coroners Service data available on May 15, 2019.

Researchers will compare the impact of the take-home tests versus drug checking services already offered at Vancouver-based sites, including how many strips come back positive for fentanyl.

“Using the test strips will allow people to identify if there is fentanyl in their drugs so they can make informed decisions about how to reduce their risk of overdose,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, Medical Lead for Harm Reduction at the centre.

“Although the test strips do not detect all fentanyl analogues, they are another tool that we can use to engage with people who use substances and discuss with them how they can reduce harms.

“After testing their drugs, people may choose to use less, to use with a friend, or not use the drug at all. And, of course, key to staying safe even with access to test strips is to be trained to respond to an overdose and have a naloxone kit with you at all times.”

ALSO READ: Canada first in the world to approve injectable hydromorphone to treat opioid addiction

Buxton added that research so far has shown that when drugs come back positive for fentanyl, drug users are more likely to reduce their dose.

From January to the end of March this year there have been 268 deaths, with a record-number caused by carfentanil – an illicit opioid used for pain management on elephants and 100 times more deadly than fentanyl.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

Car drives into Vic West TD Canada Trust building

No one was injured, building damaged

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read