December 08, 2015 - 8:30 AM
VANCOUVER - Vancouver police say too many people are dying from fentanyl-laced drugs, despite ongoing education and awareness campaigns.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat pain, and Health Canada says its abuse or misuse, even in small amounts, can cause death.
The B.C. Coroners Service says fentanyl killed about 90 people in British Columbia between January and August this year.
Sixteen of those deaths were recorded in Vancouver, while 10 died in Surrey, nine in Nanaimo and eight in Maple Ridge.
Vancouver police Sgt. Randy Fincham says fentanyl is imported in powder form, pressed into pills and sold on the streets as counterfeit OxyContin, but it can also be found in heroin and cocaine.
He says the key to saving lives is continuing to educate users about the drug.
"If they are going to choose to use an illicit drug or an unregulated drug, that they have some safety measures in place," says Fincham.
"That if there is an overdose or somebody does have an adverse reaction, that they are able to get help right away, have somebody phone 911."
Police in Delta, B.C, issued a warning over the weekend after two people used cocaine and inadvertently overdosed on fentanyl.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015