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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artists lined up as Duncan gallery gets ready to reopen

“Our window displays for June showcase the work of some of the Island’s finest artists”

Mary Lowther column: Sometimes life gets in the way of gardening

The cover crop of winter rye still waves at me from the garden

Sarah Simpson Column: Siblings are the best (and the worst, by default)

If my brother-in-law wanted a walk, he was going to have to work for it.

Maple Bay animator helps lead Netflix’s ‘The Willoughbys’

Family comedy with A-list voices has Cowichan Valley ties

CVRD may have to delay 11 capital projects scheduled for 2020

More than 50 of the 81 projects are complete or are schedule for the year

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read