Nova Scotia public health officer says response to opioid abuse is 'urgent'

(CP) - Nova Scotia is launching a multi-front battle to try to head off a repetition of the crisis underway in British Columbia in opioid drug deaths.

The province's chief public health officer says the 49 deaths so far this year from opioids – including seven from the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl – show "urgent" action is needed to avert a crisis.

Robert Strang says a figure of 70 deaths released last week was incorrect due to an error on his part, but the number of deaths and rescues from overdoses per capita is approaching the situation elsewhere in Canada.

Seven committees have been set up in Nova Scotia to study issues ranging from increasing the availability of naloxone kits – a medication that reverses the effects of overdoses – to securing funding for struggling, non-profit addiction centres that provide education on the lethal dangers of opioids.

Strang says that plans will be discussed and recommendations will be available early in 2017.

He says there are now signs of illegally produced fentanyl, which caused two of the deaths so far this year, coming to the province, possibly through illegal mail deliveries from Chinese pharmaceutical factories.