Health officials warn of toxic drugs in Ottawa following three deaths last week

Three people have died after using drugs in Ottawa last week, according to Wendy Muckle from Ottawa Inner City Health.

Muckle says at least one person used drugs they brought to the supervised injection site on Murray St., prior to requiring medical attention.

Naloxone was administered to that person – it did not work, according to Muckle.

The individual was taken to hospital where they later died.

“In that particular instance, the substance was not opioids, it was a stimulant, so those overdoses are different - They often have a different trajectory,” Muckle said.

Muckle says there is an incredibly toxic drug supply circulating in Ottawa.

“Right now in Ottawa, there is some sort of opioid analog, fentanyl was what we had initially, then we had carfentinil, now we have some new ones that are actually resistant to naloxone.”

Lisa Wright from Overdose Prevention Ottawa says the fentanyl analog started popping up a few months ago.

“It is an emerging drug that is very potent,” she said.

Mayor Jim Watson was not available for an interview Friday.

In a statement Watson, once an outspoken critic of drug injection sites, said he believes safe injection sites save lives.

“If the province cuts their funding and Health Canada does not step in, the city would have to see how we can help maintain some of these important services,” Watson wrote.

Wright says she is happy to hear an about-face from Watson on supervised injection sites.

“It was not quite a year ago that he actually denied emergency support from the province,” Wright said.

“It is really important that he finally acknowledges the role of harm reduction.”

Muckle says funding in necessary to save lives. She also believes it will take decriminalization to solve the issue.

“So people can substitute illegally illicit drugs for legally prescribed ones,” she said.

The new fentanyl analog that is circulating can be different colours, according to health experts.

OPO says there are concerns that naloxone may not work on this new substance.