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Drug warning issued for Penticton

A drug alert has been issued in Penticton for a 'beige chunk' sold as crack cocaine that contains fentanyl.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / UBCO Harm Reduction Team
April 19, 2021 - 1:40 PM

A community warning has been issued in Penticton after fentanyl was found in crack cocaine.

The drug alert was issued yesterday, April 18, warning of a “beige chunk” being sold as crack cocaine containing fentanyl.

The alert was issued by the UBC Okanagan Harm Reduction Team and remains in effect until April 24.

Lauren Airth, Campus Health Specialist with the UBCO team says today, April 19, if a drug is identified as leading to adverse health effects such as an overdose, her organization puts out community warnings as an initial response to get the word out as quickly as possible.

“We talk to medical health officer and the client who brought the sample, and spread the word.  This generally happens more often on evenings and weekends,” Airth says.

She says Interior Health is looking into the drug today to see if an alert needs to be issued.

The UBCO Harm Reduction Team provides drug checking and harm reduction services to Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

A partnership was formed last fall between UBCO and Interior Health to use the the health authority's drug checking machines.

“People working on our team include students in psychology, nursing, social work, political science and arts. Some of them, with a chemistry background, know how to use these machines, so we were able to fit right into that gap in health care and start providing these services to the community,” Airth says.

She says the hope is to operate indefinitely, as they continuously try to build capacity and funding to maintain the drug checking program.

Drug checking is available through SOWINS mobile, Pathways Addictions Resource Society, UBCO drug checking services (with drop-off at Burdock House).

A full list of drug checking locations is available here.

- This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. April 19 to correct ownership of the drug checking machines to Interior Health.

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