Recent deaths in the Toronto area have raised new warnings about the use, or rather misuse, of the painkiller Fentanyl. Forty times for portent than heroin, there have been 655 deaths attributed to Fentanyl alone from 2009 to 2014, and in the last week alone there was a high profile theft of patches in Toronto, two high-profile arrests in Halton Region, and 16 overdoses in a single day in Vancouver. In the shadow of that recent news, and a bulletin from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, the Guelph Police Service has issued their own warning.
Here’s the press release from the Guelph Police:
The Guelph Police Service has not observed a significant increase of fentanyl related calls in Guelph. The Guelph Police encountered fentanyl related incidents twice in 2013, four times in 2014 and three incidents so far in 2015. One overdose proved fatal.
The most common form of fentanyl is the “patch”. The transdermal patch is prescribed to patients who are in severe pain around the clock. The patch will provide a continuous pain relieving dose for a period of up to 72 hours. Altering or using the patch in any way other than it was intended, including improper handling can prove to be fatal.
Powdered fentanyl is a less common form and is very dangerous and deadly as it can be absorbed through the skin. Persons may not know that they are using powdered fentanyl as it can resemble other street drugs such as heroin or cocaine. The fentanyl overdose that occurred in 2015 was as a result of fentanyl powder. Fentanyl in any form is dangerous.
In other parts of Ontario and Canada fentanyl has been hidden in pills that resembled oxycodone.
Many of the local Guelph pharmacies are actively supporting the ‘Patch for Patch’ program. This program was set up to curb the illegal sale of fentanyl patches. In this initiative, the person who is prescribed fentanyl must bring back the used patches in order to receive more. This program is part of Bill C 33- Safeguarding our Communities Act. This bill is in its second reading so has yet to become law. If the bill receives Royal Assent it will govern the way doctors and pharmacists prescribe and dispense fentanyl patches. A breach of the rules would result in professional misconduct for the doctors and/or pharmacists.
The Guelph Police Service are reminding people to call the police if they locate any suspicious powders, pills or substances both in the public and at their homes. If someone is exposed to fentanyl powder they should immediately seek medical attention.
For more information on fentanyl please watch the Patch for Patch Solution video.