The B.C. lab that performs toxicology reports for suspected drug deaths says it’s about a month away from being able to spot half a dozen fentanyl analogues – including carfentanil.
Provincial Toxicology Centre director Dr William Schreiber says they’re are close to being able to pinpoint a handful of powerful new opioids making their way into the province’s street drugs.
New samples of the fentanyl analogues are now in hand, and could add clarity to some of last year’s overdose deaths.
“We have a number of cases that have been set aside where there may have been fentanyl analogues that we’re going to go back and test, and then going forward we’re going to be testing all of the cases where we have suspected fentanyl, or what appears to be a drug death but we can’t find the drug.”
He adds should allow them to test for about six new cousins of the deadly drug.
“And we just got a shipment of our carfentanil standards, so we will be able to continue developing that test, and I’m hopeful that within a month and possibly less we will be testing not just for fentanyl but for carfentanil and some of these other compounds. Some of which can also be very deadly.”
Schreiber says the tests will allow them to look at about 20 inconclusive deaths from last year, and will be applied in all new cases going forward.
He says the lab is handling 30 per cent more cases than usual which is slowing down other work, prompting a request for more staff.
922 people died of illicit drug overdoses in B.C. last year.