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

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at Maple Ridge school

Students at James Cameron School reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

Scorpion, first brought to Maple Ridge vet, gives birth after hitching ride in woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought it home from trip to Cuba

Maple Ridge man faces deportation over father’s honour-killing conviction

Father lied to immigration, was later acquitted of charges in Jassi Sidhu’s murder

LETTER: The good and bad at Ridge Meadows Hospital

‘I drove to the hospital and paid $6.50 for parking.’

UPDATE: Police incident at west Maple Ridge mall

Save-On-Foods closed due to threat, police say

Scorpion, first brought to Maple Ridge vet, gives birth after hitching ride in woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought it home from trip to Cuba

Victoria area school grapples with death of 13-year-old

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. imposes interim moratorium on resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

B.C. sculptor depicts epic eagle battle in latest piece that took 2,500 hours

Clasped in one of the raptor’s talons is each one’s desire: a living venomous diamondback rattlesnake

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

Air Canada expects Boeing 737 Max to resume flying by September or October

Air Canada isn’t worried about safety of the planes, says vice-president

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Most Read