FILE - In this June 6, 2017, file photo, a reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly after a news conference about deaths from fentanyl exposure, at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Overdose deaths are continuing to decrease at promising rates in B.C. but five people are still dying every two days due to a toxic drug supply.

There were 690 drug deaths between January and August, according to data released by the BC Coroners Service Wednesday, marking a 33 per cent drop in drug-related fatalities in the first eight months of 2019 compared to last year. A reported 1,037 people died from illicit drugs within the same time period last year and 1,083 people in 2017.

Seventy-nine deaths were drug related in August, marking a general decline month-over-month since January.

ALSO READ: ‘A balanced view’: How to talk to kids about B.C.’s overdose crisis

READ MORE: Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem

Despite the reprieve in the ongoing overdose crisis, street-level fentanyl remains a prominent cause of overdose deaths and has been detected in 85 per cent of all toxicity reports.

Illicit carfentanil, a drug 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and used to sedate large animals, has been detected in 119 fatal overdoses – a 240 per cent spike from the 35 deaths seen last year.

By local area, the highest rates of illicit drug deaths are in the small communities of Princeton, Grand Forks and Hope. The lions share of these kinds of deaths remain in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.

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

READ MORE: ‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdose deaths by city
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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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