Carfentanil detected in the Interior Health region

Carfentanil has officially found its way to the region.

Interior Health says it’s confirmed the presence of the synthetic opioid through a drug test in the Kootenays reported by Health Canada and a urine test in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region reported by LifeLabs. The drug tested in the Kootenay region was illegal imitation oxycodone tablets with the markings ‘CDN 80’.

Carfentanil is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl, and overdoses caused by the opioid require larger quantities of naloxone and are more likely to be lethal- just one or two grains the size of salt can be fatal to humans. It’s usually used as a sedative for larger animals, such as elephants.

Chief Medical Health Officer with Interior Health, Dr. Trevor Corneil, says the health authority already had its suspicions the drug was in the area.

“We did see a drastic increase in both non-fatal and fatal overdoses in December and to the early parts of this year so we have been suspecting that both fentanyl and potentially carfentanil had played some role in this”

The drug has already been detected in other parts of the province.

While Interior Health says not using drugs at all is the best way to avoid an overdose and recommends people abstain from using illegal drugs, it acknowledges abstaining may not be an option. It says to reduce the risk of overdose people should not mix different drugs, not use them when alone, and use less amounts. It recommends people carry a Naloxone kit and recognize the signs of an overdose.