Fentanyl overdoses in Alberta continue to rise

The Canadian Press
May 23, 2017
Written by The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – Alberta Health says 113 people died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl in the first three months of 2017.

That's compared to 70 deaths in the same period in 2016.

The government says there were 51 deaths in the Calgary zone and 36 in the Edmonton zone in the first quarter of the year.

Since Jan. 1, 2016, 476 people have died from an apparent drug overdose death related to fentanyl, with an average of 95 per quarter.

This includes 50 deaths where carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, was detected – 29 in 2016, and 21 in the first quarter of 2017.

Liberal Leader David Swann, who is a doctor, says the government's approach is not working and again called for the government to declare a state of emergency and hire a chief addictions and mental health officer.

Swann also says there must be more public education, better access to harm reduction, including opiate replacement therapy and safe injection sites, especially outside of major urban areas.

"With each quarterly report, we are seeing the death toll rise," Swann said in a news release.

"Now, is the time for the government to admit its approach isn't working, put away its pride, and join with all opposition caucuses and numerous stakeholders, and declare a state of emergency."

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