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Drug Checks at Insite Reveal 86% Contain Fentanyl

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Fentanyl, a drug responsible for hundreds of fatal overdoses in the lower mainland has been tested positive for 86 per cent of the drugs brought into Insite.

The results come shortly after Insite launched a drug checking pilot program that had nurses offer clients a test strip to check their drugs at their injection station.

Essentially, each client diluted their substance with a few drops of water and a positive or negative sign exclusively for fentanyl was revealed instantly.

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“These initial results confirm our suspicion that the local drug supply is overwhelmingly contaminated with fentanyl,” says Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). “We’re hoping this information can help people who use drugs.”

173 checks were performed this summer between July 7 to August 13.

“We’ve heard from clients that they want to know what’s in their drugs,” says Dr. Lysyshyn. “With the number of overdoses rising it’s critical to empower people to learn about their risk of being exposed to this toxic substance. We’re hoping this will encourage them to use our harm reduction services like take-home naloxone kits, consider undergoing addiction treatment and take precautions like decreasing their dose or not using alone.”

The test strips are part of Insite’s pilot project. They were originally developed to check urine for fentanyl, and were not intended for drug-checking.

After a few months, staff will evaluate the results and determine if the strips are helping clients and whether to continue the service.

The number of daily visitors to Insite has reportedly remained steady over the past few years, but there has been four times as many overdoses (573) compared a decade ago (132).

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