Interior drug users included in take-home fentanyl test kit pilot program - InfoNews

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Interior drug users included in take-home fentanyl test kit pilot program

Fake Oxycontin pills containing fentanyl are displayed during a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. A take home fentanyl testing program is coming to Kamloops and the Okanagan.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
May 16, 2019 - 12:09 PM

KELOWNA - Kamloops and the Okanagan will be included in a study to see if kits that test for fentanyl can be as safely used by drug users compared to trained technicians.

Each participant will be given five free test strips, with instructions on how to use them to determine if their drugs contain fentanyl, according to media release from Interior Health.

Researchers will compare the “fentanyl positivity rates” from the take home kits versus what the technicians find during the same time frame.

The program was set up by Vancouver Coastal Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and the kits will be available in Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

Fentanyl was blamed for 87 per cent of overdose deaths from illegal drugs in B.C. in 2018, Interior Health said.

“We know using drugs alone presents a significant risk amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day,” Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in the release. “Drug checking is an important tool in our toolbox and through this research project we can learn more about how to keep people safer and help them find a pathway to hope.”

The test strips are also available at certain overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites. They were originally designed to test for fentanyl in urine, but in 2016 they began being used to test drugs. A small amount of the drug is mixed with water and the test strip is inserted into the mixture.

“Using the test strips will allow people to identify if there is fentanyl in their drugs so they can make informed decisions about how to reduce their risk of overdose,” Dr. Jane Buxton, Medical Lead for Harm Reduction at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said in the release. “After testing their drugs, people may choose to use less, to use with a friend, or not use the drug at all.”

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