The head of the B.C. Toxicology Lab says Health Canada has given it approval to keep samples of carfentanil in the lab in order to create tests.
Dr. William Schreiber says they have been waiting for approval to keep the drug in their lab for months.
Schreiber says he is relieved the amendment has finally been made so they can better understand the deadly drug.
“On Monday we received news that our drug license has been amended and that we are now permitted by Health Canada to possess not just fentanyl but all of the fentanyl analogues and derivatives, so we can now get these drugs into our lab and start developing tests for them,” he said.
Once the tests are in place, he says it will help officials get a clearer picture of just how many people the drug has killed in the province.
“We’ll at that point go back and start to analyze some of the cases that we had where people appear to have died from a drug overdose, but we never did find a drug that would have caused death,” he said.
Schrieber wasn’t able to say exactly how many cases could be re-tested.
He says they hope to get some samples in-house by the end of the week – but says it could take several months after that to develop a test.
The Provincial Toxicology Centre does toxicology testing for clinical patients, as well as the BC Coroners Service.
With files from Liza Yuzda