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New drug checking technology available in Penticton

One of Interior Health's two FTIR drug checking machines, similar to the one pictured in this Wikimedia Commons photo, will be in Penticton.
February 06, 2020 - 4:46 PM

Interior Health has a new resource available today in Penticton to help people check the safety of their illegal drugs.

The health authority issued a drug and overdose alert yesterday after a fentanyl test strip detected the drug in crystal meth in Penticton.

“It’s the first time we found the drug in test strips in Penticton. We also noticed an increase in overdoses so we issued the alert,” Interior Health regional harm coordinator Jessica Bridgeman said.

She said there is no evidence the increase in overdoses and the fentanyl found in crystal meth are related.

Bridgeman said they have two main drug checking interventions, one of which is the fentanyl test strip, which has been available in Penticton since 2018. The test strip can be accessed through the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.

The second intervention is the FTIR machine, which is a spectrometer. The portable unit can detect a large number of substances in a drug with an infrared light. The machine then compares it to a detailed list in its database.

“We currently have two of them in Interior Health, one based out of Nelson and the other in Kamloops,” Bridgeman says. The machine is operated by Ask Wellness in Kamloops. 

The spectrometer will be available to Penticton residents today, Feb. 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Burdock Place, 594 Winnipeg St.

The machine is expected to return to Penticton on Feb. 20, March 5 and 19.

More information on the FTIR machine can be found at

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