The head of the B.C. Toxicology Lab that does the drug testing for the B.C. Coroner Service says they have the biggest backlog they’ve ever experienced because of the overdose crisis.
Dr. William Schrieber says there’s a 25 per cent increase over the usual 1,800 cases they do in a year.
Where standard reports could be done in a month, they now take three.
Suspected overdoses tests are being fast tracked.
“This is at least one-quarter of the cases we are working on and it required extra effort to get these cases analyzed and reported within two to three days and the more expedited cases like this we do the more the routine cases back up.”
Schrieber says this is frustrating for families waiting for answers.
Shreiber says he is frustrated the lab still can not test for drugs similar to fentanyl – like the more deadly drug carfentanil.
He says Health Canada has not yet given the lab approval to have samples of the drugs which are necessary in order to create a test for them.
“What we are trying to do is to rules so that we don’t get into trouble and have them shut down our ability to even possess these drugs. But at the same time, the wheels grind slowly. Health Canada is a federal organization and they do things at their own pace.”
Schreiber says he hopes they will have clearance by the end of the year.
They have been waiting for months.