B.C.’s top doctor cites ‘trial batch,’ as possible link to rash of drug overdoses

Health officials speculate on reasons for nine overdoses in five days in the Interior

It was a staggering start to January for communities in the Interior Health region, with nine people dying from drug overdoses within a five day period – a harsh reality of the creation and distribution of illicit drugs.

Sometimes referred to as “bad batches” or “clusters,” the distribution of illegal drugs with potent amounts of fentanyl – and in a few cases carfentanil – has been the culprit behind a handful of these kinda of deaths across the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall suggested the deaths may be due to a new dealer entering the region, “who doesn’t know how to mix the drugs in anything-less-than a dangerous way.”

“These deaths might represent the first sort of trial batch that somebody’s mixed up and put out into the community,” he said.

READ MORE: Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

Although she said she could only speculate, health officials believe these kinds of spikes in death carry a strong link to a specific supply of contaminated drugs, said Dr. Patricia Daly, executive director of the B.C. Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

“That’s often when you see clusters or rises in death, from a more contaminated drug supply,” Daly said during a news conference Wednesday, adding that clusters of deaths are investigated through the B.C. Coroners Service.

Black Press Media reached out to comment from the RCMP on its investigation into the deaths, but a spokesperson for the force declined to comment.

Not the first cluster of overdoses since fentanyl increase

In the summer of 2017, Fraser Health Authority released a warning similar to IHA’s alert on Jan. 26, after five people died from overdoses within nine hours in Abbotsford.

Officials urged drug users to not do drugs alone, to not mix different drugs and to carry naloxone.

Vancouver Coastal Health, serving the region seeing the lions share of drug overdose deaths, have taken increased measures to get the word out when bad drugs are detected on the streets.

The RADAR pilot project was launched in July, a texting service that sends an alert to those signed up when emergency crews attend to a number of overdose in a certain area within a short time frame.

Kendall has urged British Columbians in the past to become informed about the federal Good Samaritan Law, which protects people from charges of possession if they call 9-1-1 to report an overdose.

Just Posted

Tailings site near Salmo could be remediated

The tailings came from the historic Jersey-Emerald mine

Greyhound service cuts decision expected next week

Nelson could see its bus service reduced on Wednesday

Nelson to review city council pay levels

The results would apply to the next council following the municipal election this fall

Petition: reinstate band program at Mt. Sentinel

SD8 superintendent is surveying Slocan Valley students to gauge interest

Logging planned for Cottonwood Lake and Apex areas

The private land to be logged is owned by Nelson Land Corporation headed by Mike Jenks

What it means to be human (without a smartphone)

Two LVR teachers take control of phones in the classroom

Leafs lose regular season finale

Nelson was resting several players in a 3-2 loss to Beaver Valley

SKI TIPS: Sequence is everything in skiing

Whitewater Ski Team coach Dylan Henderson on the importance of movement sequence

Nelson Leafs fall to Rebels 4-1

The Leafs open the playoffs next weekend

Nelson speedskater wins two races

Ian Walgren was on the podium at a Special Olympics event

Nelson Nordic Ski Club hosts two races

The Clearwater Challenge and Kootenay Cup both ran last weekend

Five gold medals at provincials for Nelson Boxing Club

Local fighters put on a clinic last weekend

COLUMN: Love in the pages – and on the plate

Check This Out with Anne DeGrace

LETTER: Cannabis Compassion Club optimistic in legal battle with city

The downtown non-profit has been operating since 2000

Most Read