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PHAC blames increased presence of fentanyl in drug supply for rise in Canada's Opioid-related deaths

PHAC blames increased presence of fentanyl in drug supply for rise in Canada's Opioid-related deaths

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 20 Dec 2017, 06:09 pm

Toronto, Dec 20 (IBNS): Increased presence of fentanyl in the drugs supply is likely responsible for Canada's increased opioid-related fatalities, with the number of people dying from the cause expected to rise to 4,000 by the end of 2017, far above last year's total of 2,861 opioid-related fatalities, media reports said.

"It's such a toxic drug that there is no second chance," Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, was quoted by the media.

"People may die at the first exposure to fentanyl. This is a national public health crisis.First and foremost there is a very toxic drug supply. So we've seen the proportion of fentanyl as part of the opioid-related deaths go up 75 per cent now, and that's increased compared to last year," she was reported as saying.

Illicit fentanyl reportedly accounted for 53 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016.

The hardest hit by fentanyl-related overdose deaths were British Columbia and Alberta but the presence of opioid in the street drug supplies in Ontario also is leading to fatalities.

Tam was reported to say that the fentanyl-contaminated drugs has affected all the provinces and territories and added,  "it could hit all other areas of Canada and that's why it's so concerning."

Three-quarters of opioid-related deaths -- according to Public Health Agency of Canada report -- occurred among males, and  the highest proportion (28 percent) Canadians aged 30 to 39 succumbed to fatalities..

In spite of the  implementation of number of measures to counteract the overdose deaths, including operation of supervised injection sites for drug users with easy access to the rescue medication naloxone, Tam admiited it was too early for those programs to reduce the number of deaths.

Many safe-injection sites, for instance, had only recently begun operating.

"This crisis is really based on some very difficult societal challenges, including stigma to the persons who have problematic substance use and also some of the social economic factors such as homelessness and poverty," Tam said.

"So this is an extremely complex issue and as we move into 2018, we really need the whole of Canada to be prepared."

Collaboration among different levels of government, said Tam, with increased access to treat people struggling with drug abuse is the call of the hour.


(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

Image: Dr Theresa Tam/Twitter

PHAC blames increased presence of fentanyl in drug supply for rise in Canada's Opioid-related deaths

India Blooms News Service
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