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Province launches drug-checking pilot program in Vancouver

Last Updated Nov 10, 2017 at 9:20 am PST

One of the portable drug-checking machines being rolled out in Vancouver. (Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In an attempt to stem the escalating opioid crisis, the Province and the City of Vancouver are rolling out a new drug-checking pilot program in the city.

The provincial government is trying to figure out whether making drug-checking more widely available will help prevent overdose deaths.

“With dangerous drugs like fentanyl contaminating the majority of street drugs, giving people information on what’s in the substances they are using can help them make informed decisions about whether or how much they consume – and could save lives,” says Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

The City of Vancouver and BC Centre on Substance Abuse have funded the purchase and operation of a specialized drug-checking machine. The portable unit is now being used along with fentanyl test strips to check drugs for a wide range of contaminants at two supervised consumption site in Vancouver.

The use of fentanyl test strips is also being expanded at all supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites in BC. The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has allocated $3 million to support drug testing across the province.

The death toll from illicit drug overdoses in BC reached 1,103 for the first nine months of this year, the coroners’ service said. In 2016, 982 people fatally overdosed in British Columbia.